(U.S. Law and Generally) Injuries that occur outside of the workplace can be very problematic for the injury victim. Employers are not responsible to maintain an employee injured outside the workplace and unemployment is contingent on the claimant’s ability to work. Even an employee who is medically cleared for light duty by a doctor may have a problem returning to work when the employer is not willing to provide light-duty job responsibilities.
Actually, employers can leave themselves vulnerable by allowing an injured employee to return to work on light duty because injured employees can easily exacerbate the injury, even in a light-duty situation. However, there are a few measures that can be utilized by the injured party.
Family Leave Act
Depending on the length of employment with the employer, an injured employee can still file for a leave if they are incapacitated to work. However, this may be an unpaid leave. Employee insurance packages may allow for short-term disability payments for a six-month period.
If the injured employee cannot return to work after six months, then long-term disability can begin if the injured party has filed for disability with the Social Security Administration. In many cases, this is the only option, but winning a disability claim can be a long and exhausting process. If the long-term prognosis is permanent disability, then it is important to file as soon as possible to get the claim started.
Filing for Disability
Anyone can file for disability after being injured, especially if the injury will last for a significant period of time. Asset levels can be problematic if the injured party is apply for Supplemental Security Income because of the asset threshold for qualification.
Social Security claims can also be problematic because the injured party must be unable to work for six months and all claimants are routinely denied on the initial claim. Winning a long-term disability claim through the Social Security Administration
always requires an attorney who is experienced with rules of Social Security Disability awards.
Education and Alternate Employment
Injured individuals who are capable of performing sedentary job duties can always apply for alternate career positions if a potential employer is willing to accept the applicant. EEOC laws apply to injured individuals after they are ruled disabled, so this can easily be a limited option. It may be better to look at other alternatives, such as returning to school through the various financial aid availabilities.
Attending school is not necessarily considered being able to work and may be available through the state vocational rehabilitation department. State vocational rehabilitation normally covers book and tuition and establishes with the state that the individual is injured.
Anyone who is in this employment position should always consult with an attorney who may know of other options, but attorneys will usually advise to file for Social Security Disability. The application also includes SSI eligibility consideration and Medicaid. The new healthcare law has made it much easier for individuals to qualify for Medicaid healthcare through a needs-based determination. Additionally, if an employee has been terminated unduly there may be a legal avenue to either reinstate the injured employee or file for other employment-related benefits like unemployment.
If the immediate physician agrees to a release to return to work, it is a high possibility that unemployment benefits may be available until the disability claim is filed. Always remember that a disability claim is a claim that the individual cannot work, and an unemployment claim is a claim that an individual can work. According to Steinger, Iscoe, and Greene, an Orlando, FL personal injury attorney team, “You have medical bills, pain, and possibly loss of work. You deserve to know your rights, your choices, and your options.”