Can I get benefits when I return to work?
Q. I suffered a severe back injury on the job and have been left with significant paralysis in both legs. I am now back to work doing a sedentary job. Are there monetary workers’ compensation benefits I can get for my injuries even though I am now working?
A. Yes. First of all, an injured Michigan worker who returns to work, yet continues to have a disability that limits one’s ability to work within their qualifications and training may be entitled to partial disability benefits. Partial disability benefits equal 80% of the difference between the injured employee’s after-tax average weekly wage before the injury and the after tax weekly wage which the employee is able to earn after the date of injury. Are you making less money than you used to make? If so, at the very least, you should be entitled to these weekly partial disability benefits.
The Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act also provides for guaranteed weekly benefits for a specified number of weeks for certain workers with certain injuries regardless of their subsequent work history and subsequent wages. These certain guaranteed weekly benefits, that were paid regardless of subsequent wages and unreduced by the receipt of other benefits like sick leave, originally were limited to persons with amputations. In the 1950’s, the Michigan Legislature and Michigan Supreme Court recognized that these “specific loss” benefits would be payable if a person sustained “a loss of industrial use” of a particular “member” of the body. If you have lost the industrial use of a single leg, you should receive 215 weeks of weekly benefits in the amount of 80% of your after tax average weekly wage (subject to certain maximum and minimum payments.) The Supreme Court has stated that if you have lost the primary service of the limb in industry, then you have suffered a loss of industrial use. If you have sustained permanent and total loss of the industrial use of both legs, you are entitled to an automatic 800 weeks of such weekly benefits under the total and permanent disability provisions of the Act, regardless of any other income you receive. If your injuries are so serious that they prohibit you from working on your feet, you should contact us, as you probably qualify for these benefits.