A worker with a job-related health condition in North Carolina may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. They could receive medical coverage beginning the same day they get hurt or a doctor diagnoses them with a job-related health issue. They may also qualify for disability benefits if they need to miss multiple days of work.
Many injured workers worry about what their short-term leave of absence will mean for their finances. They may not have much money in savings, and workers’ compensation might be the only way for them to pay their bills.
How long can employees expect to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits after developing a job-acquired health condition?
Benefits last until circumstances change
As a general rule, workers’ compensation benefits last until some aspect of the situation changes. The best outcome would be an end of benefits because a worker has fully healed and can now return to their job. Both health benefits and disability benefits will typically end when a doctor declares that someone has fully recovered and can go back to work. When a worker has lasting medical challenges related to a job-acquired health condition, some of their benefits may continue indefinitely.
Workers’ compensation health coverage will continue paying for treatments for as long as someone requires it and responds to it. If someone reaches a point where they no longer respond to treatment, a doctor may submit a report indicating that they have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). If a worker is unlikely to improve from additional treatment, then workers’ compensation won’t pay for treatment anymore.
Thankfully, health benefits might still cover ongoing symptom management costs. They could also potentially receive permanent disability benefits. Workers can receive permanent total disability benefits if they never recover enough to return to gainful employment. They may also qualify for permanent partial disability benefits if they will have a permanent reduction in earning potential because of lasting symptoms.
It will generally be someone’s improvement or lack thereof that determines when their benefits start and stop when it comes to a a workers’ compensation claim. Understanding when benefits begin and end can help workers assert themselves when facing an unfair early termination of benefits or other claims issues.