When you are injured and at MMI (maximum medical improvement, which means as healthy as you are going to get) and can’t return to a job with your employer because they can’t accommodate your medical restrictions, you are not left out in the cold as far as work comp benefits go.
Under Illinois law, once you reach MMI, you no longer receive TTD benefits. That said, you can still get the same payment amounts, but it’s called maintenance. To get this payment you have to begin vocational rehabilitation which is the process of looking for work within your restrictions and sometimes getting training to help you obtain new skills to find a job in a new field.
Sometimes the job search is done with the assistance of a vocational counselor and other times it’s self directed. You have to make a good faith effort at finding work if you want benefits to continue. And you have to be able to prove it.
In a recently published Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission decision, a Yellow Transportation driver lost out on maintenance benefits because he failed to provide sufficient proof of a job search. He had injured his back and finger and could no longer work as a driver. Maintenance benefits were denied because while he kept a job log filled with employers names, there was no specific information as to when he contacted them, the name of the person he contacted, the position he applied for or what the result of that job search was. Beyond that his testimony on what he did was found by the Arbitrator to be inconsistent and noted that the worker said he was looking for jobs in Florida even though he lived in Illinois. He also listed some jobs that he was not physically capable of getting, didn’t prove he ever filled out an application or even
Taken all together it meant that there wasn’t an adequate job search and he didn’t get benefits.
I’m not sure what his lawyer told him or how cooperative of a client he was, but it’s your attorneys job to give you detailed instructions on looking for work and keeping a proper job log. We have experience in these cases and you don’t so it’s on us to make sure you are educated. If your attorney doesn’t do that then they aren’t doing their job.
Beyond that, I’ve written a lot on this blog about how you have to look out for you. It’s probably not fun to do a job search, especially when most of the positions are for work that you don’t want to do. But if you aren’t looking out for you then nobody else will. So if you don’t keep a proper job log after being told how to do so then you are to blame although your attorney should be asking for a copy of it every month or so.
This guy cost himself a lot of money and it may be a six figure mistake in the long run because odds are that he was making a great wage in the old job. If he can’t credibly prove what he could currently be earning then he will miss out on wage differential benefits.
If you have any questions about conducting a job search under Illinois law or anything else related to workers’ compensation give us a call at (312) 346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you ASAP.