Q. What is workers' compensation?
A. If you get hurt or
become sick because of
work, your employer's insurance is required by
law to pay for workers' compensation benefits.
You could get hurt by:
One event at work, such as hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin or getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.
Repeated exposures at work, such as hurting your wrist from doing the same motion over and over or (wrist injuries from typing, your hearing because of constant loud noise, etc).
Q. What are the benefits?
A. Workers' comp insurance provides three
Temporary payment benefits: Payments if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering.
Medical care: Paid for by your employer to help you recover from an injury or illness caused by work
Permanent disability benefits: Payments if you don't recover completely
Q. The Massachusetts Workers' Comp system seems very confusing. Should I get an attorney?
A. That's what we are here for. If you are a Massachusetts resident our organization will see that you are provided with the best possible legal representation (at no cost to yourself). You're not required to have an attorney, even if you have a disagreement with the claims administrator. However, if your case is complex you may benefit from having one.
Q. I'm having a problem getting my benefits. What resources are available to me?
A. Again, that why we are here. We have local Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Attorneys who are a great resource and their services are free. They are here to act on your behalf as an attorney would, and they'll help you understand how to act on your own behalf. You can also make an appointment with one of our member attorneys and speak to them privately at your convenience.
Q. When will I get my first check?
A. You should receive the first check within approximately 21 days after contacting our office.
Q. What should I do if I have a job injury?
A. First, report the injury to your employer by telling your supervisor right away. If your injury or illness developed over time, report it as soon as you learn or believe it was caused by your job.
Reporting promptly helps prevent problems and delays in receiving benefits. If your employer does not learn about your injury within 30 days and this prevents your employer from fully investigating the injury and how you were injured, you could lose your right to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Next, get emergency treatment if you need it. Tell the health care provider who treats you that your injury or illness is job-related.
Then, contact us! We will help you complete a claim form, called a DWC form 1, and give it to your employer. Your employer must give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning about your injury or illness.
Q. Besides workers' compensation benefits, can I get any other financial assistance?
A. Yes. Other benefits may be available. These include:
Benefits paid by the state and federal governments such as Massachusetts Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments.
Additional Payments if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer.
Q. Who decides what type of work I can do while recovering?
A. Your treating doctor is responsible for explaining in a medical report:
The kind of work you can and can't do while recovering
The changes needed in your work schedule or assignments.
You, your treating doctor, your employer and your attorney (if you have one) should review your job description and discuss the changes needed in your job. For example, your employer might give you a reduced work schedule or have you spend less time on certain tasks.
If you disagree with your treating doctor, you must promptly write to the claims administrator about the disagreement or you may lose important rights.
Q. What is the time limit for filing a Petition for Benefits?
A. In general, there is a two (2) year period to file a Petition. However, it depends on the type of issue in dispute.
Q. Is there a period of time after which my claim is no longer open?
A. If you were injured on or after January 1, 1994 , the claim is closed one (1) year from the date of your last medical treatment or payment of compensation. This period of time is referred to as the Statute of Limitations. If you were injured before January 1, 1994 , the period is two (2) years.
Q. What if I don't fully recover?
A. Your treating doctor may determine that you will never be able to return to the same job and working conditions you had before you were injured. The doctor should report this in writing. The report should include permanent work restrictions to protect you from further injury.
Q. What happens if my employer is uninsured and I'm hurt on the job?
A. Failing to have workers' compensation coverage is a criminal offense.
Q. Do I have to pay any of my medical bills?
A. No, all authorized medical bills should be submitted by the medical provider to your employer's insurance company for payment.
Q. How much will I be paid?
A. In most cases, your benefit check, which is paid bi-weekly, will be 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage. If you were injured before October 1, 2003, this amount is calculated by using wages earned during the 91-day period immediately preceding the date of your injury, not to exceed the state limit. If you worked less than 90% of the 91 day period, the wages of a similar employee in the same employment who has worked the whole of the 91-day period or your full-time weekly wage may be used. If you were injured on or after October 1, 2003 , your average weekly wage is calculated using wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not counting the week in which you were injured.
In addition, if you worked less than 75% of the 13 week period, a similar employee in the same employment who has worked 75% of the 13-week period or your full time weekly wage shall be used.
Q. Do I have to pay income tax on this money?
A. No. However, if you go back to work on light or limited duty and are still under the care of the authorized doctor, you will pay taxes on any wages earned while working.
Q. If I'm only temporarily disabled, how long can I get these checks?
A. You can receive Temporary Total, Temporary Partial Disability payments or a combination of the two benefits during the continuance of your disability for no more than a maximum of 104 weeks.
Q. Can I receive social security benefits and workers' compensation benefits at the same time?
A. Yes. However an offset, or reduction in your workers' compensation check may be applied because the law states that the two combined may not exceed 80 percent of your average weekly wage earned prior to your injury. For further information on Social Security, you may contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or visit their website at www.ssa.gov .
Q. Can my employer fire me if I am unable to work because of an injury and am receiving workers' compensation benefits?
A. No, it is against the law to fire you because you have filed or attempted to file a workers' compensation claim.