In Ohio, most employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. These benefits can be an important lifeline when you’re worried about your recovery and your family’s financial stability all at once.
Aside from financial payments that are designed to partially replace your lost wages, workers’ compensation also includes health coverage benefits. These can prove very valuable because they can fully cover the treatment costs related to your workplace injury or illness without any financial responsibility on your part.
Workers can generally receive disability benefits for as long as they remain unable to work – but who decides when you can safely return to your job?
The doctor handling treatment makes the medical decisions
For the most part, it will be the physician overseeing your treatment who determines how long you must rest after an injury and when you can return to work. Your physician can place restrictions on your job, such as limiting how much you can lift or requiring your employers to provide you with a certain amount of breaks.
Your physician also decides if you have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI), at which point you will either need to return to work or make alternate arrangements based on your limitations. Such determinations can change what benefits you ultimately receive.
Occasionally, injured workers receiving treatment may disagree with a physician’s decision about their care and may strongly believe that they are not ready to return to work. If that’s your scenario, you may have grounds to seek a second opinion and potentially push back on the doctor’s recommendations.
Workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice long-term health for income
The point of providing disability benefits to injured workers is, in part, to limit the lasting medical consequences they may experience because of their injuries. Being forced to work when your body cannot tolerate it could actually worsen your injuries and decrease the chance of a full recovery. If you disagree with your doctor’s assessment of your ability to return to work, it may be possible to seek a second opinion.
Learning more about who makes the decision that you’re ready to return to work after an injury or illness can help protect your rights.