Aggressive Counsel for Injured Workers Facing a Change in Benefits
Claiming Maximum Recoveries for Those Suffering with Workplace Injuries
Your employer may seek to modify, suspend, or terminate your workers’ compensation benefits before you have made a full recovery. If your employer sent you for an Independent Medical Examination (IME), you were subject to a vocational earning power assessment, or you received a suspension or modification petition in the mail, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
At Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers are ready to answer your questions and help you fight to maintain your benefits.
Suspension or Modification Requirements
If your employer wants to suspend or modify your benefits, they must meet their burden of proving that your medical status has changed, and that you are capable of returning to some form of work, though not necessarily your previous position.
If your employer can show that you are able to work and earn a living wage, they may be able to modify or suspend your weekly workers’ compensation payments. However, to do so your employer must follow certain procedures outlined in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, including sending you for an IME and having a vocational expert complete an earning capacity assessment and labor market survey.
Independent Medical Examination (IME)
To prove that you can return to work, your employer must first send you for an IME performed by a doctor of their choosing. If the IME doctor determines that you can return to work at some capacity, your employer may then proceed in attempting to modify or suspend your benefits.
If your employer proves that you are capable of earning wages equal to or greater than your pre-injury wages, your wage benefits may be suspended. If your employer proves that you are capable of earning wages that are less than your pre-injury wages, then your benefits may be reduced to two-thirds of the difference between your pre- and post-injury wages.
Earning Capacity Assessment and Labor Market Survey
If the IME doctor claims you are capable of returning to work, your employer may hire a vocational expert to determine what type of work you are able to perform. This expert will assess your earning power by interviewing you and reviewing your medical documentation.
After performing the earning capacity assessment, the expert will then perform a labor market survey. A labor market survey involves finding available jobs that you can perform within a reasonable distance from your home.
You do not need to be hired by any of these positions for your employer to prevail; rather, your employer must simply show that the positions are available, and that you are capable of performing them. Your benefits may then be reduced in accordance with your potential earning power.
How a Benefits Reduction Could Work
For example, if you were earning $1,200 a week before your injury, then you would receive $800 a week in workers’ compensation benefits (two-thirds of your pre-injury wages). If the vocational expert finds a few jobs that average a weekly salary of $700 a week, and the workers’ compensation judge finds that you can perform those jobs, then your potential earning power would be $700 a week.
You would then be left with two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and new earning capacity, which amounts to $333.33 a week – a significant decrease.
If the judge determines that you are capable of earning the same wages as you earned before your work injury, your benefits could be terminated entirely.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Injured Workers Maintain Their Benefits
Given the potential for such a drastic decrease or outright termination of benefits, it is crucial to have an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney from Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. on your side. If your employer is trying to modify, suspend, or terminate your benefits, contact us online or call us at 888-PITT-LAW to see how we can help.
We protect the rights of injured workers throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County, as well as in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.