Sometimes, when new clients come into our office, they aren’t sure if they need to file for disability or for workers’ compensation. Understandably, it can be hard to tell the difference. Our Tampa workers comp attorneys can help you file a workers’ compensation claim to get the benefits you deserve.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Are Two Completely Different Programs
Many people don’t realize it, but workers’ compensation and disability are two completely different things. Workers’ compensation is meant to protect people who are injured at work.
Disability, on the other hand, is intended to help people who are disabled and cannot work. While both programs offer financial assistance, they are different in many ways.
Workers’ Compensation Is Overseen by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation
One of the major differences between disability and workers’ compensation is the fact that they’re overseen by different authorities. Workers’ compensation is managed and overseen by the Florida Division of Workers Compensation.
This department is responsible for ensuring that workers’ claims are handled properly. They also resolve disputes between insurance carriers and claimants. When your workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa files an appeal, it will ultimately be reviewed by the Division of Workers Compensation.
Disability Is a Federal Program and Is Overseen by the Social Security Administration
While workers’ compensation is handled by the State of Florida, disability is a federal program. When a person files for disability, they file their claim with the Social Security Administration. This is a federal agency.
While the federal government is the ultimate authority for disability claims, the State of Florida is somewhat involved. Before a claim is sent off to the SSA, the Florida Division of Disability Determinations reviews the claim to ensure the claimant is medically eligible.
Workers’ Compensation Is Meant to Protect People Injured On the Job
Florida implemented the workers’ compensation system in 1935. In the years following the Great Depression, it became necessary to enact legislation to protect both employees and their employers.
Prior to the various states enacting their own workers’ comp systems, employees would sue their employers if they got hurt. It got to the point where more than 15% of all employees were winning their cases. It got too expensive for smaller and medium-sized businesses to pay these judgments.
Disability Isn’t Limited to People With Work-Related Injuries
Unlike workers’ compensation, which is designed to protect employees injured on the job, disability is more encompassing. Anybody who is suffering from a disability that makes it impossible for them to work is eligible to apply for disability.
While it may seem like the federal government would have more resources to pay disability claims, that doesn’t mean much. Most people who apply for disability are denied. The requirements for disability are much stricter than the requirements for workers’ compensation.
Your Tampa Workers’ Comp Attorney Will Have to Prove You Meet the Criteria for Benefits
In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, your workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa will have to prove that you qualify. First, they’ll need to demonstrate that your injuries were sustained at work.
Your Tampa workers comp attorney must also prove that your injuries preclude you from performing your job duties. The insurance companies that decide whether to pay a claim are very judicious. While the denial rate isn’t as high as it is for disability, it’s still impressive.
There Are Certain Basic Criteria You Must Meet
To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you must meet certain criteria. If you don’t, your claim will be denied and you’ll be expected to return to work.
When you first submit your claim, you’ll need to demonstrate the following.
- Your injuries were caused while you were actively working.
- You reported your injuries to your manager or Human Resources department right away.
- You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your accident.
- Your injuries prohibit you from performing your job.
- You agree to be drug tested prior to receiving treatment.
- You agree to be treated by a state-approved workers’ compensation doctor.
- You comply with your doctor’s treatment plan.
This sounds like a lot. However, most of the claims our Tampa workers comp attorneys handle meet most of these criteria. They are often denied for just one or two reasons.
What Benefits Will You Receive Under Workers Compensation?
If your claim is approved, you’ll be entitled to three main types of benefits. The first benefit is medical care for your work-related injuries. Second, you’ll receive weekly replacement wages until you return to work. And, finally, you’ll be entitled to employment rehabilitation if needed.
It’s important to remember that your benefits do not kick in immediately. You will not be paid for the first seven days you are out of work. Once the 8th day hits, you’ll begin to earn your weekly benefits. If you happen to miss more than 21 days, you’ll be paid retroactively for the first seven days.
Your Medical Care Will Be Covered
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will be responsible for any medical bills you incur. This is limited to medical treatment for your work-related injuries.
Once your doctor determines that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, you’ll be expected to return to work. At that time, your benefits will cease. Of course, if you aren’t ready to return to work, your workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa can get a second opinion.
You Will Also Receive Weekly Replacement Wages
In addition to medical care, you’ll also be entitled to weekly benefits. Your benefits will be equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages. For example, if you normally make $1,000 per week, you’ll receive $666 while out on workers’ compensation.
There is a cap on how much you can receive. For 2023, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $1,197. This means that, if you normally make $1,819 per week, you’ll still only receive $1,197. For some workers, this is a big difference from what they would earn if they were working full-time.
Your Workers Compensation Attorney in Tampa Can Help if Your Claim Is Denied
If for some reason, your claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. Your Tampa workers comp attorney can handle this for you. This will ensure that your appeal is handled properly.
Your attorney must file your appeal with the Clerk of the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims in Florida. The insurance company will have fourteen days to either pay your claim or respond.
You Can Always File an Appeal if Your Claim Is Denied
One of the reasons you would want a workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa to handle your appeal is that they’re familiar with the process. They also know how the various insurance companies operate.
Your lawyer will do their best to win your appeal and get you the benefits you deserve.
Reach Out to One of Our Seasoned Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Tampa
We do offer new clients a free, initial consultation. You should contact one of our workers’ comp lawyers in Tampa as soon as possible after your workplace accident. This way, they can ensure that your workers’ compensation claim is handled properly from the start.