Louisiana Supplemental Earnings Benefits
Are you a Louisiana worker who’s trying to get back to work after an injury, but facing reduced income? It’s common to be assigned lower hours or fewer job duties after an injury.
Although it’s good to be getting back to work, you’re in a tough situation. When your household depends on a certain level of income, it’s hard to get by on a much smaller paycheck.
This is why so many people in your situation apply for Louisiana supplemental benefits. These benefits are a type of workers’ compensation that can help you remain financially stable after an on-the-job injury.
It’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that you could be entitled to these benefits under the law. The bad news is that even fully-qualified applicants often struggle to secure their supplemental income benefits.
This is where a Louisiana supplemental earnings benefits lawyer comes in. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and options so you can pursue the full benefits you’re allowed by law, securing as much compensation as possible for yourself and your family.
What are Louisiana’s Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
After suffering an on-the-job injury, supplemental earnings can kick in to help replace the income you would have received had you never been injured. Generally speaking, supplemental benefits are only applicable when you can work, but not at full capacity.
Your pre-injury and post-injury income will be compared to determine if you have suffered an injury loss and at what level. While the government considers a loss of income worthy of compensation, it’s not usually at the full value of your income before the injury.
This is why it’s inaccurate to think of supplemental earnings benefits as full wage replacement. You won’t necessarily be receiving your full wages. There will be a calculation to determine what level of income would be reasonable for you to depend on and what amount of compensation would be fair for your supplemental earnings benefits.
In general, an injured employee in Louisiana is eligible for two-thirds of the difference between their average weekly wage before and after the accident. Your capability to work is also a factor, and there’s a maximum threshold for this type of compensation.
Who Qualifies for Louisiana Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
If you’re wondering whether you qualify for supplemental earnings benefits, you may have a hard time finding a clear answer to this question online or even from your employer. Remember, your employer may have mixed motivations for giving you a certain answer or might not understand the laws involved.
This is why it’s so important to talk to a Louisiana workers’ compensation and supplemental earnings benefits lawyer with experience in this field. Your lawyer is there to look out for you and help you understand your rights under the law.
Broadly speaking, any job-related injury could be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, including diseases acquired on the job and worksite deaths. When it comes to supplemental earnings benefits, it will depend on your capacity to work and how much you were earning before the injury.
What are the Advantages of Claiming Supplemental Earnings Benefits With Workers’ Compensation?
There are many advantages to making a supplemental earnings claim, including benefits for both the employee and employer. It’s to your employer’s advantage to keep you working and maintain consistency at their job site. And if you’re working while receiving supplemental earnings, you’re still able to make a living despite an injury.
Benefits of supplemental earnings for employees:
- Replaces lost wages
- Helps cover medical costs and hospital bills, including nursing, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and long-term care
- Prescription medicine coverage
- Funeral expenses when applicable
- Avoids a stressful legal battle
- Keeps employees working and maintain business stability
- Promotes workplace safety because it helps prevent re-injury
- Avoids expensive, time-consuming lawsuits
- Helps keep proper insurance coverage
- Good for the company’s public relations and reputation
What is the Process for Claiming Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Every situation is unique, but the supplemental earnings claims process tends to follow the same general pattern each time. Consult with your lawyer at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe to get a more detailed explanation about the process you may face for your situation.
Step 1: Reporting Your Injury
The first and most important step if you’re injured or experience a work-related illness is to report it to your employer immediately. Do not delay reporting it, or you could harm your chances of receiving the maximum possible compensation.
Step 2: Establishing a Path to Compensation
Next, you’ll need to seek out medical care for your injury while working with your employer to establish your workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, this starts with activating temporary total disability benefits due to a complete inability to work. You should have a Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer during this process to help ensure your employer follows the law to the letter.
Step 3: Following Your Doctor’s Orders
The next stage involves tracking your current health status with the help of your doctor, who
plays a key role. The doctor determines when an injured worker has reached the “point of maximum medical improvement,” which is when you’re either completely recovered or will never reasonably recover further.
Step 4: Obtaining a Medical Release to Work
Eventually, your doctor will either release you to go back to work or determine that you’re permanently too disabled to work. If they release you, they will do so with or without restrictions.
This determination is quite important for your benefits. A release without restrictions means your weekly benefits almost certainly end due to your ability to work again.
However, if the doctor imposes restrictions, supplemental earnings benefits may apply. Continue to follow the doctor’s orders including any special accommodations at work, including things like:
- Working only during certain hours
- Using a limited range of motion
- Restricted work activities
- Physical workspace and workstation accommodations
- Limitations on the full scope of your work
Step 5: Addressing Special Situations
Finally, it’s important to consider that there may be a special situation that has arisen related to your injury or related to the employer’s circumstances. For example, their workload may have shifted during your recovery period and no job is currently available for you.
The good news is that you should still be eligible to receive supplemental earnings benefits even if there is no immediate job for you to step back into. The benefits will likely be at the same level as your previous temporary benefits.
Another special situation involves employees who have other injuries or illnesses that are unrelated to the workplace injury/illness. Although this separate health concern may impact an employee’s ability to work, only the work-related injury/illness is factored into the calculation of whether you can work unrestricted and what level of compensation you might receive.
Having two or more jobs is another special situation that requires careful calculations regarding your supplemental earnings benefits. Your pay depends on what level of work you can do at each job, your work hour average, pay rate, and other details.
Your lawyer can help you make the types of careful calculations that are involved in special situations with supplemental earnings benefits. A talented and experienced lawyer can almost always help you maximize your compensation and stay more financially stable than you would be without supplemental benefits.
What Happens If I’m Denied Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Don’t give up if your claim is denied, even if you’re feeling frustrated by your situation. You still have options, and an initial denial isn’t the end of the story. Often, the reason for the denial is somewhat simple and can be fixed with your lawyer’s help.
Here at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, we’ve seen many situations that could be resolved with a bit of additional work and legal knowledge. Below are several examples of situations where people are initially denied but later make a successful claim.
Example 1: Testing Error
What if your drug test was inaccurate? Your claim may involve a drug test and a testing lab can make a mistake or provide an inaccurate test result that impacts your workers’ compensation and supplemental earnings benefits. Your lawyer can help you get to the bottom of the problem, including providing updated medical records that clarify the issue so you can receive benefits.
Example 2: Paperwork Error
Paperwork errors are, unfortunately, very common. Maybe one of your documents was missing its proper signature. We’ve also seen many instances of employers who filled their information out wrong and caused the employee’s claim to be denied. Your lawyer can look over your documentation and ensure everything is correct and ready for resubmission.
Example 3: Unclear Circumstances of Denial
You receive what you believe is an incorrect or unclear denial. Common reasons include having a pre-existing condition, receiving an incomplete explanation, or having a lack of clarity about whether your injury/illness falls within medical treatment guidelines.
If this happens, discuss it with your lawyer immediately. You still have a good chance of securing supplemental earnings benefits after your situation is clarified with the help of an experienced Louisiana supplemental earnings benefits lawyer.