With a court order, the parent who receives child support can get a portion of the paying parent’s workers’ compensation checks. The payments, which replace lost wages when someone is injured on the job and can’t work, are not exempt.

The law on what income must be contributed as child support is fairly clear. It includes pretty much everything. When it comes to child support, the courts are looking at what is fair to the child, and they uphold the idea that the child is entitled to the financial support of both parents. Think of it from the perspective of what the child would get if his or her parents had not gotten a divorce. They would likely benefit from all income, including workers’ compensation.

The same can be true if the workers’ compensation comes in the form of a lump sum settlement. It may be considered income for the purposes of child support. The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that the guideline amount of child support (20%) applied to a workers’ compensation settlement. In any child support case, the paying party can argue for an exception to the rule, but the general rule in Illinois seems to be that workers’ compensation settlements count as income when it comes to child support. This can be a hard to hear, especially in a messy divorce.

We don’t sugar coat things. Our goal is to tell you the truth, in a way that makes sense. We believe it’s the best way to help you. Be careful when an attorney promises something that’s too good to be true, such as protecting your money from a child support order.

Cosmetic surgery, to repair disfigurement, may be covered medical expense

In Illinois, workers are entitled to benefits if they are injured on the job. These benefits cover medical expenses and pay workers a percentage of their wages while they are unable to work. Workers also may receive a lump-sum settlement, called permanency, if their injury is permanent.

Sometimes an injury results in what the law calls “disfigurement,” which is something that alters your appearance, like a scar. What happens if you suffer a work injury, you get medical coverage for treatment and recovery, but at the end you are left with a scar? If you decide you want to explore surgery to reduce the appearance of the scar, will workers’ compensation cover that expense?

In a recent case, a furnace worker was hit in the head by a steel cylinder, resulting in a one-centimeter by two-centimeter dent on her forehead. She was seeking cosmetic surgery to repair the dent, but a doctor testified that it would not cause her any health problems, and coverage was originally denied. The case made its way up to the appellate court, which disagreed and said cosmetic surgery would be a covered medical expense in that case.

Another type of benefit available in a disfigurement case is permanency (a lump sum settlement) to compensate the injured worker for the severity of their injury and the impact it will have on their life.

Illinois workers’ compensation law says that permanency is available if the disfigurement is serious. The size and location of the scar are taken into consideration, with more severe and/or visible scars typically leading to a larger settlement. The above case focused on medical coverage for the cosmetic surgery, rather than permanency, and the scar probably wouldn’t have been severe enough for a settlement.

Every case is different, but the thing to remember is that Illinois courts have recognized cosmetic surgery as a covered medical expense under the right circumstances. Talk to your attorney, or give us a call, if you have questions.

We are workers’ compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand