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Modification or Termination of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides that if you are a worker injured on the job you have the right to fair and timely compensation while you recover. However, an employer and its workers compensation insurance carrier will often attempt to return the employee back to work, or try to modify and terminate benefits, before the injured worker has sufficiently recovered from their on-the-job injuries . Employers and their workers compensation insurers may attempt to prematurely reduce or stop the payment of benefits. When you receive notice of a petition to modify or terminate your benefits, you need the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Pearson Koutcher Law, by your side to ensure that your full benefits continue for as long as you need them.
Grounds for Modification of Benefits
Your employer or its insurer may seek to modify your benefits if your disability status changes. If you are receiving total disability compensation, your employer or insurer can request an impairment rating evaluation (IRE) within 60 days of the 104-week anniversary of the start of your benefits. If the evaluation shows that you have an impairment rating of less than 50 percent, your status will change to a partial disability. You will then only be entitled to a maximum of 500 weeks of benefits.
Your benefits may also be modified if you have recovered from your injuries or illness enough to return to work in any capacity. The employer may offer an injured worker a job the employer feels is physically and vocationally appropriate for the injured worker to perform. Or, the workers compensation insurance carrier can have the injured worker evaluated by a vocational counselor to determine the earning power of the injured worker. In either scenario, the employer and the workers compensation insurance carrier will be trying to modify the benefits of the injured worker.
Grounds for Termination of Benefits
Your benefits may be terminated if:
- your employer or its insurance carrier denies your claim and gives notice that they are terminating any temporary compensation they have been paying you during the 90 days following your injury;
- a Termination Petition is filed, and after the presentation of evidence, a Workers’ Compensation judge orders that your benefits be terminated;
- you execute a Supplemental Agreement or an Agreement to Stop Workers’ Compensation, commonly referred to as a Final Receipt;
- the 500-week period of partial disability benefit status expires; or
- you retired employment and the insurance company alleges you withdrew from the workforce.
Warning Signs of Petition for Modification or Termination
If you are contacted by a vocational expert, you can expect that your employer or its insurance carrier will soon be seeking to modify your Workers’ Compensation benefits. The vocational expert will conduct an earning power evaluation, in conjunction with labor market surveys, to determine if there is a “lighter duty” job that you are capable of performing and if such a position is available to you. If the vocational expert determines that there is a job that you can do, even while your recovery continues, your employer or its insurer will seek to lower or stop benefits. You will soon receive a notice of a Petition to Modify or Suspend Compensation Benefits.
Another clear indication your employer or its insurance carrier may be looking to completely cut off your medical and wage-loss benefits is that you are requested to visit a physician chosen by your employer or the insurer for an independent medical exam (IME).. The examination is for the purpose of procuring an opinion that you are fully recovered or at least recovered enough to return to some form of employment. Armed with the report of the physician, your employer or its insurer will file a Petition to Terminate your benefits if the IME physician feels you fully recovered from your work injuries.
Pearson Koutcher Law, Defends Against Benefit Modification & Termination
When a petition to modify or terminate your benefits is filed, including a Notice Stopping Payment of Temporary Compensation Benefits, it is imperative that you waste no time contacting an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer to assist you in defense of the petition. Preserving your rights to benefits if you are still injured and unable to return to work requires immediate action. The workplace lawyers of Pearson Koutcher Law, have assisted countless clients throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, to defend against unjust attempts by insurance carriers to modify or terminate Workers’ Compensation benefits. If you are concerned that your benefits may be modified or terminated, or if you have already received a notice of a petition to do so, contact our office as soon as possible to protect your rights under the law.