What types of benefits are you entitled to after a work-related injury or illness?
In Indiana, most employees who are injured on the job are entitled to receive benefits under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws. These benefits include medical expenses, income replacement benefits, and death benefits.
Let’s take a close look at each of these types of benefits so you’ll have some idea of what you might receive if your workers’ compensation claim is accepted.
If your work-related injury is compensable under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws, your employer is required to pay for all the medical treatment that is “reasonable and necessary” to treat your injury. This might include:
- Doctor and hospital visits
- Ambulance transportation
- Diagnostic testing
- Surgical procedures and follow-up appointments
- Prescription medication
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Medical devices (oxygen tanks, knee braces, etc.)
- Adaptive equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.)
In Indiana, there is no waiting period to receive medical benefits. What’s more, the duty to provide care continues until the employee reaches maximum medical improvement.
Income replacement benefits
If your injury requires you to miss work or changes the nature of the work you can perform, you’re entitled to income replacement benefits (sometimes called “wage loss benefits”).
The amount of compensation you’ll receive depends on whether your injury is classified as a temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability. Regardless, these benefits are NOT taxed.
Temporary disability benefits
The maximum benefit for temporary total and partial disability payments is set every year and is currently $780 per week.
- Temporary total disability (TTD). You have a TTD if you’re unable to return to the same or similar job for a specific period of time. You’ll receive two-thirds (66%) of your average gross wages at the time of injury, up to the maximum. If you also receive Social Security disability benefits from the injury, the workers’ compensation benefit could be reduced by up to half that amount.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD). If you can continue to work as you recover, but in a limited capacity or for a job that pays less than what you earned before the injury, your benefits will cover the difference between your pre and post-injury wages (up to the maximum).
Permanent disability benefits
Once your doctor determines that you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement (you’ve recovered as much as you’re going to), you’ll be evaluated for any permanent disability benefits.
- Permanent partial disability benefits (PPD). If your injury is permanent but you can still work in some capacity, you’ll receive PPD benefits. The amount of compensation you’ll receive depends on whether your injury is “scheduled” or “unscheduled.”Injuries that are specifically listed in the Indiana schedule of losses are considered “scheduled.” The amount of compensation you can receive for the scheduled injury, as well as the length of time for which you can receive the compensation, is calculated by multiplying the degree assigned to your specific injury by the monetary value assigned to that degree.
Injuries that aren’t specifically listed in the Indiana schedule of losses are considered “unscheduled.” For unscheduled injuries, your doctor will assign a degree of impairment based on your total bodily function (for example, a 20% impairment is equal to 20 degrees). Your compensation is then calculated by multiplying the degree by the assigned monetary value as you would for a scheduled injury.
- Permanent total disability benefits (PTD). If your injury prevents you from doing any work in the future, you’ll receive PTD benefits. The amount you’ll receive is two-thirds (66%) of your gross wages up to the maximum. These benefits will continue up to 500 weeks.
Calculating income replacement benefits, particularly for permanent disabilities, can be complicated. To ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney once you receive your benefits letter.
If a work-related injury or illness results in death, the deceased’s dependents may be eligible for death benefits. Death benefits are two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage (up to the maximum) paid over 500 weeks.
There are 2 categories of dependents:
- Presumptive dependents include the spouse of the deceased, unmarried children under 21 and living with the deceased at the time of death, unmarried children under the age of 21 not living with the deceased but for whom the employee has a legal support obligation, and children over 21 who have never been married and are mentally or physically handicapped.
- Dependents-in-fact include individuals related to the deceased by blood or marriage who are dependent (totally or partially) upon the deceased.
Death benefits are equally divided among all of the deceased’s presumptive dependents. If there are no presumptive dependents, then dependents-in-fact split the benefits.
In addition to the benefits described above, the deceased’s employer must pay for burial expenses up to $7,500.
Obtaining maximum benefits under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws
If you have questions about the worker’s compensation claims process, or you feel that the benefits you’re awarded aren’t sufficient, consider reaching out to an Indiana workers’ compensation attorney.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the claim process, negotiate benefits, and represent you through the appeals process (if necessary). The Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana strongly recommends that you consult an attorney if you’re contemplating disputing your claim or you feel that your rights under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws are being violated.