Off The Record – Workers’ Comp Requirement To Work Within Your Medical Restrictions
Interviewer: Hey, Bill, I just had a client call, this particular client is disabled as a result of a work-related injury. Does the client have to look for work at this point in time?
Bill: Yeah. The insurance company can raise this issue of what they call labor market attachment. So, if you’re deemed to have a partial disability, under workers’ compensation, at some point, you do have to show that you’re looking for work within your medical restrictions in order to keep your benefits going. Okay? And that has been like a long-standing premise in the workers’ compensation system for years. Now, during COVID, that requirement was suspended. But, last month, actually, as of August 16th, they have lifted that suspension. And so now, there is, once again, a requirement to look for work within your medical restrictions if you’re deemed a partial disability. If you’re considered totally disabled, you do not have to look for work with any restrictions. But if you’re considered partial, and you agree that you have a partial disability, in other words, you’re not fighting that disability classification, you do have to look for work within your restrictions.
However, with the recent change, as I said, as of August 16th, the judge will consider some, you know, special circumstances and things like that, that wouldn’t have been considered prior to COVID. Okay? So, it’s very similar to, like, unemployment. If you’re collecting unemployment insurance benefits, you have to show that you’re out there looking for work. Okay? Very similar here with workers’ comp, if you’re on a partial disability, you have to show that you’re looking for work within your restrictions. And basically, the way people do that is they’ll register with the Department of Labor. We have something out here called one-stop. Not quite sure how you do that now, because I don’t know if their offices are completely open. I guess you do it online. But you also have to do an independent job search, okay? You have to go out and, you know, actually show that you’ve applied to places. And quite frankly, most places accept job applications online now. That’s how you do it. You know, there’s very little of this walking in off the street and applying for jobs. You know, so…but you have to show and document that you’ve done a diligent job search in order to keep the benefits going.
Interviewer: Now, Bill, who sets the restrictions? Is it the claimant’s doctor or is it the insurance company’s doctor?
Bill: It could be a combination of both, but now, for example, if the insurance doctor says you’re partially disabled, and your doctor says that you’re totally disabled, well, you have an issue there. We don’t agree that there’s a partial disability. However, if we concede that the injured worker has a partial disability, then that triggers off the requirement for them to look for work within their restrictions. Or if the individual’s doctor says, “Yeah, you’re partially disabled, now you’re capable of doing light sedentary work,” and at that point, you have a requirement to look for work within your physical or medical restrictions.
Interviewer: Okay. Thank you. I’ll let the client know.
Bill: Okay. If you’d like more information about this, please give us a call or check us out on the web, www.nydisabilitylaw.com.