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Does being released for light duty affect workers' compensation?

When a Connecticut worker is injured on the job and is temporarily unable to work, the time might eventually come when he or she can work again. In some instances, the only kind of work the person can do is "light duty" or "restricted" duty. When this happens, there are certain suggestions that the Workers' Compensation Commission will make to the worker to ensure that the available workers' compensation benefits can still be received.

The employee should ask the employer to provide the level of work that can be done, based on the injury and what the treating physician says the worker can do. If the employer does not offer this type of work, the worker should register with the Connecticut Job Service to take part in a search for any kind of work in the area. The insurance carrier should be told of the change in status, so a list of employment contacts can be sent to the adjuster every week.

The worker will still receive temporary partial benefits for every week that the list of job searches is received. The amount of benefits will be equal to what the worker's rate is based on the minimum and maximum amounts.

When the worker does find a suitable job, and it pays less than what would be paid if he or she was able to do the job, prior to the injury, the adjuster should be told. In such a case, there will be wage differential benefits.

This will last until the physician says that the person can get back to the regular work or has reached the maximum level of medical improvement. The payment will be 75 percent of the difference between the current earnings and what would have been earned if the worker was still able to do the previous job.

A common concern that workers have when they are injured on the job and get workers' compensation benefits is what will happen if the treating physician declares them able to return to light or restricted duty, but not the previous job. And, how a reduction in wages will be handled.

Workers are meant to be protected in these and all circumstances. If, for example, the worker disagrees with the assessment that it is possible to work again, if the applicable benefits are not given in full, or if there is any other problem, a qualified workers' compensation attorney can help.

Source: WCC.State.CT.US, "State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission -- Information Packet -- 'Light Duty' Work Guidelines and Job Search, page 12," Jan. 7, 2018

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