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Am I eligible for temporary disability benefits?

In the wake of a work-related illness or injury, the affected worker typically has two primary concerns: their medical expenses and their lost wages. As we've been discussing in a series of posts, reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the illness or injury will be covered by the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.

As far as lost wages are concerned, state law dictates that workers are indeed eligible for wage replacement or, as it is otherwise known, temporary disability benefits.

When would a worker be able to start collecting temporary disability benefits?

While you might think that wage replacement would cover any work you miss, the reality is that temporary disability benefits can't begin to be collected until you've missed more than three workdays or three shifts. In fact, the calculation for lost wages starts from the fourth workday or shift onward.

Does this mean a worker forfeits wages for the first three workdays or shifts?

Not necessarily. If you miss more than two weeks of work, you will receive payment for the first three workdays or shifts missed.

Are there different types of temporary disability benefits?

There are two types of temporary disability benefits: temporary total disability and temporary partial disability.

What's the difference?

In general, temporary total disability is paid to those workers left completely disabled for a temporary amount of time following their accident or illness. By way of example, consider an auto mechanic who breaks their arm and is unable to perform any work-related functions for six weeks.

In contrast, temporary partial disability is paid to those workers who have reached a point in the healing process where they are able to perform reduced/light work-related functions on either a part- or full-time basis.

We'll continue examining this topic in future posts, including taking a closer look at how temporary total disability is paid and when it stops.

If an insurer is refusing to cover your medical expenses or pay lost wages, consider speaking with a skilled professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.

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