A caller to my office slipped while making a delivery and badly broke his leg requiring surgery. As you can imagine, he was not able to walk for a while and when he was able to return to work, he was told to do no more than four hours a day.
He used to work around 50 hours a week so while he was happy to be back on the job, he was not so psyched to be getting such a small paycheck. He hadn’t heard anything from the work comp insurance company and wanted to know if there was anything he could do until he was back to full duty.
This is another situation where the insurance company does the wrong thing and it results in a worker calling and hiring a lawyer. The good news is that under Illinois workers compensation law, when you are able to return to work, but part time you are able to collect something called temporary partial disability benefits or TPD.
TPD benefits work like TTD benefits (the pay you get when you are completely off work). You get 2/3 the difference of your average weekly wage and what you are getting now. So if this worker used to work 50 hours a week at $20 an hour ($1,000 average weekly wage) and now works 20 hours a week ($400) he has a loss of $600. Two thirds the difference is $400 and he should receive that, tax free, on top of his regular pay check until he is released to return to work without restrictions.
Why wouldn’t the insurance company just pay him? They were rolling the dice that he wouldn’t find out what the law is and what his rights are. That’s simply what insurance companies do. They might seem like they are playing nice when you don’t really know what benefits they are screwing you out of.
Bottom line is that when you can only return to work part time, the insurance company has to make up the difference until you are better.
Bonus tip, beware the employer that doesn’t accommodate your restrictions. If your doctor says no lifting more than 20 pounds then don’t ignore that no matter what pressure you are being put under. Not only is your health at risk, but ignoring your doctor’s restrictions could cause your case to get denied. It’s illegal for your employer to retaliate for you listening to your doctor.