Supplemental Earnings Benefits in Mississippi
You’re finally going back to work after an injury, but now it’s much harder for you to do your job. You’re facing fewer hours and reduced productivity, which is cutting into your paycheck. Now what?
This is a common situation that arises when someone in Mississippi needs supplemental earnings benefits. While it’s great to be healing from your injury and getting back to work, it’s a huge blow to have a reduced income.
Supplemental benefits are a form of workers’ compensation that helps people stay financially stable. You could be entitled to these benefits under law, but you’ll probably have to do a bit of leg work before you receive your first supplemental income payment.
If you’re struggling to understand supplemental earnings benefits, it’s important to know your rights and options. Seeking the help of an experienced Mississippi supplemental earnings benefits lawyer ensures you’re pursuing the full benefits that you deserve.
What are Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Supplemental earnings benefits add to your income after a reduction due to an on-the-job injury. In Mississippi, generally speaking, supplemental benefits apply only when someone is able to work, but can’t work at a level that delivers 90% of the same income.
When this is the case, the difference in pre-injury income vs. post-injury income is a loss that the government considers worthy of compensation. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be compensated at the full value of your pre-injury income.
You won’t necessarily receive full wage replacement. A calculation will be made to determine whether your injury qualifies, what level of income you can reasonably live on, and what could be considered fair compensation for supplemental earnings benefits.
Who Qualifies for Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Here in Mississippi, supplemental earnings benefits are only owed to certain workers. The determination is made according to your current potential for earnings within certain financial boundaries, plus your employer’s status.
Mississippi businesses with five or more employees must offer workers’ compensation insurance, and smaller businesses may provide it but are not required to. Any job-related injury could be covered by this workers’ compensation insurance, including diseases acquired on the job and worksite deaths.
After a job-related injury, Mississippi supplemental earnings benefits apply only if a worker is unable to earn 100% of their pre-injury wages. There is also a $450 a week cap, including all indemnity benefits paid, and your benefits are paid at two-thirds of pre-injury wages minus post-injury wages.
It’s common for people to wonder whether they qualify for supplemental earnings benefits and many have a hard time finding a clear answer to this question. Your employer might not understand what the law says or might not want to tell you the truth.
Ask a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer for insight into your eligibility for supplemental earnings benefits. Your lawyer works on your behalf and is there to look out for your rights, unlike your employer or co-workers who may have mixed motivations depending on the situation.
What are the Advantages of Claiming Supplemental Earnings Benefits With Workers’ Compensation?
Although supplemental earnings benefits aren’t guaranteed, they’re an enormous help for an employee and their family while coping with the aftermath of an injury. A successful claim can bring some or all of the following benefits.
- Replacement of lost wages
- Payment of medical costs and hospital bills
- Coverage for the expenses of nursing and long-term care
- Prescription coverage
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Funeral expenses when applicable
- There’s no need to prove fault or endure a legal battle
- Helps employees get back to work faster
- Prevents re-injury and promotes workplace safety
- Avoids being sued for injury costs
- Maintains proper insurance coverage
- Preserves the company’s reputation with the public
Workers’ compensation and supplemental earnings benefits help Mississippi workers stay employed, stay financially stable, and stay healthy. That’s good for employees and employers alike.
What is the Process for Claiming Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Here’s what tends to happen in a typical supplemental earnings claim, although each specific situation is unique. Everything starts with a workplace injury.
Step 1: Report it Immediately
If you’re injured at work or become ill due to work, report it to your employer immediately. Any delay could ruin your chances of receiving the right compensation.
Step 2: Establish a Path to Compensation
From there, you as the employee seek medical care and work with your employer to establish workers’ compensation. Typically, this begins by activating temporary total disability benefits while you are completely unable to work due to the workplace injury. It’s extremely important to talk to a Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyer and ensure your employer and healthcare providers are following the rules set forth by law.
Step 3: Follow the Doctor’s Orders
During this time, you will see a doctor who tracks your health status. The doctor plays a key role because they determine when a patient has reached the “point of maximum medical improvement.” This is the point at which you are either completely recovered or will never reasonably recover further.
Step 4: Obtain Medical Release to Work
As long as you aren’t considered totally and permanently disabled, the doctor will eventually release you to go back to work. When they release you, they will do so with or without restrictions. If you’re released without restrictions, this means your weekly benefits will probably come to an end because you’re considered able to work unrestricted.
If the doctor imposes restrictions, you could be eligible for supplemental earnings benefits and should continue to follow the doctor’s orders for your special care at work. Restrictions typically involve things like only being at work during limited working hours, using a limited range of motion that restricts work activity, and/or arranging physical workspace accommodations that can impact your ability to do the full scope of your work.
Step 5: Address Special Situations
In some situations, the employer’s workload has shifted during the employee’s injury recovery period and no jobs are currently available. In this case, the employee should be eligible to receive supplemental earnings benefits at the same level as the temporary total disability benefits previously received.
One complicating factor is when an employee encounters other health problems during the injury/recovery period that are unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim but impact their health nonetheless. Keep in mind that only the work-related injury or disease is factored into whether you can work unrestricted and whether you may be eligible for either workers’ compensation or supplemental earnings benefits.
If you have two or more jobs, your situation also becomes more complex and will require careful calculations. Your supplemental pay will depend on whether you’re unable to work one job or unable to work all jobs, what your average hours are, what your average pay rate is, and more.
Talk to your workers’ compensation lawyer about your options in your specific situation. A lawyer can almost always help you maximize your compensation and stay more financially stable than you would otherwise be without supplemental benefits.
What Happens If I’m Denied Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
There are many reasons why your claim could be denied, and many of them will probably feel very frustrating. For example, your employer or doctor might fill out the paperwork wrong, or there could be technical issues at the state level that cause a flurry of delays/denials.
If your claim is denied at first, don’t give up. You might still have other routes to receiving compensation and can still file an appeal if you act quickly. What happens next depends on why you were denied.
Below are a few examples of situations where people can be initially denied benefits, but are able to secure them later with some additional effort.
You had an inaccurate drug test: A lab or testing facility can give inaccurate drug test results that cause people to be denied benefits like workers’ compensation and supplemental earnings benefits. With a lawyer’s help, you can get to the bottom of the problem, provide updated medical records, clarify the situation, and secure your benefits.
There was a paperwork error: One of the most common reasons for denial is a simple paperwork error, like a missing signature on your medical release waiver or an employer who filled their information out wrong. Your lawyer can look over your documentation, see what’s missing, and help you pursue a successful claim.
You’re told you don’t qualify, even if you think you do: Maybe you have a pre-existing condition. Maybe it’s unclear whether your injury/illness falls within medical treatment guidelines. Maybe your employer reported it incorrectly. There are many reasons for a denial that may or may not be accurate.
Remember, your lawyer is there to help you stand up for your rights and stay on the road to recovery after a workplace injury. Whether your claim was already denied or you’re just starting the process for the first time, the team at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe is here to help you secure the compensation you deserve.