Many workers are able to get payments – called temporary total disability – if they miss work because of an injury. How do you know if you qualify? Here are the basic requirements:

– You have a work-related injury. If you were hurt doing something for your employer, even if it wasn’t your regular duties, it’s likely work related. There are gray areas, and if you fall into one of those, the insurance company might deny your claim initially. You can fight this with a hearing in front of an arbitrator who will make a decision after hearing the evidence.

– You’re an employee. Independent contractors aren’t covered under workers’ compensation law. However, make sure you know your classification. It might not be what your employer calls you. In other words, they might say you’re a contractor when you’re actually an employee in the eyes of the law. Also, volunteers do not qualify.

– Your doctor says you can’t work. You’ll need a medical opinion to justify your inability to work. If you are in pain and you are upfront with your doctor about what happened, then this shouldn’t be a problem. But they need to be on your side.

– You’ve missed more than a few days of work. You can’t get lost-time benefits until you miss a certain number of days. Illinois law says that if you miss three days, then you can start getting temporary total disability. If you miss 14 days, you will be retroactively paid for those first three days.
Even if you meet all of these criteria, your claim can be denied for various reasons. But a denial doesn’t mean it’s over. The insurance company looks for ways to make your claim go away because it costs them money. It’s their job. Your attorney’s job, if you hire one, is to get your claim approved and make sure you get your benefits.

By Michael Helfand