Congratulations! Your case has been decided by a Workers’ Compensation Judge, and you’ve won! You are now receiving workers’ compensation benefits every week. Everything is smooth sailing now, right? Sadly, this is very wrong. Normally, when a suit is brought against a defendant, the final outcome concludes the entire case. In Workers’ Compensation, there are many methods the Employer has at its disposal to try and stop, or reduce, your benefits even after your injury has been accepted as work related. Even if a Judge grants your claim, the Employer will likely use one of these methods, to try and stop or reduce your benefits. This means, every time an Employer tries to stop or reduce your benefits, you’ll end up back in Court. Just because your claim was accepted doesn’t mean all litigation is over.
Many ways exist that allow your Employer to reduce your benefits, simply by filing some forms with the bureau of workers’ compensation. This type of reduction of your benefits is called an Employer credit/offset. Simply, the Employer can reduce the overall amount of workers’ compensation wage payments they make if you receive certain types of income, in addition to Workers’ Compensation.
The Employer can reduce, or take a credit/offset of your benefits, for the receipt of the following types of income:
- Wages Earned with a new Employer
- Social Security Retirement
- Short/Long Term Disability Benefits
- Unemployment Compensation Benefits
There are certain procedures the Employer must follow before reducing your benefits. The Employer must send you a notice telling you they are going to reduce your benefits. This notice gives you 20 days before the reduction takes place. Further, there are times the Employer is not allowed to take a credit/offset for your receipt of other benefits. For example, if you receive Social Security Retirement Benefits before your work injury, these benefits will not reduce your workers’ compensation. This is why we tell clients that they need an attorney even though they are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Without an attorney’s guidance, and knowledge, the Employer can take credits that they might not be entitled to.
It is important to tell your attorney whether you are receiving any other benefits because of your work injury. The Employer will send you verification forms every six months to find out if you are receiving other benefits for your work injury that might offset/reduce your workers’ compensation. You must complete these Employee Verification forms. If you don’t, your employer can automatically suspend your wage loss benefits until you complete these forms.