Unfortunately, the insurance company isn’t going to take your word for it. In order to continue to get temporary total disability benefits, you’re going to need your doctor to agree that you are unable to return to your job. That’s the law in Illinois.

If you legitimately feel as though your doctor is wrong, we believe you. You know your body best. But the law has to draw the line somewhere or everyone would go around saying they can’t work. If your doctor can’t be convinced, you’re in a tough spot.

The best way to avoid a problem like this is to value your relationship with your doctor from the beginning. Your goal is that you want your doctor to trust you and believe you and genuinely want to help you. So being a good patient is a good start. This includes being honest about how you were injured and how you’re feeling. Keep your doctor posted if your pain or condition changes. If they don’t feel you are being honest, they might not believe you when you say you are still in pain.

If you’ve already gotten to the point where you have a disagreement with your doctor about your readiness to return to work, make sure to let them know that you disagree. You might be able to get them to agree to a few weeks of light duty work as a trial run. Maybe there is some rehabilitation you can do first to get you ready to go back. Make sure you ask what you can do if you feel pain while working in the future.

Your doctor may have seen patients in the past who have tried to take advantage of workers’ compensation system. Let them know that you aren’t one of them, that you want to return to work but that you are worried that it’s not time (as long as this is the truth, of course).

In the end, you might just have to go back to work and give it a try. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised, or maybe you’ll get re-injured. But if you don’t try, your other option is to sit at home and not get paid. We wish we could give good news all the time, but our philosophy is to be honest about what you’re facing and then help you figure out how to make it better.