Temporary disability benefits are a much-needed source of money coming into the home when you are laid up for a short period of time with an injury or illness. It is imperative that you are paid these benefits as New Jersey workers’ compensation law requires.
If your employer unfairly tries to limit or deny your temporary disability benefits, it is important to consult with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer from Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., right away in order to protect your rights.
We can provide a free initial review of your case, explain your rights and explore what can be done to seek benefits on your behalf. Call (800) LAW-2000 or use our online form today.
Eligibility for Temporary Disability Benefits
Temporary disability benefits are a type of workers’ compensation benefit an employer must provide under our state’s workers’ compensation laws. These benefits are available to workers if they:
- Experience any type of workplace injury, including a repetitive stress injury
- Suffer an injury from an accident
- Become ill as a result of exposure to toxins on the job
- Miss at least seven days of work because their condition temporarily renders them unable to perform their job.
Workers must notify their employer of their injury or illness as soon as possible. They also must have medical evidence indicating that they suffered an injury that renders them unable to work.
Employers must promptly review a request for temporary disability benefits and notify their insurers of the claim if they are insured. A worker may begin receiving temporary disability benefits once it has been determined that the work suffered a covered work injury that required missing seven or more days of work.
What Types of Temporary Disability Benefits are Available?
According to relevant New Jersey workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to receive up to 70 percent of your weekly wages that you were earning at the time when you injured yourself on the job. However, there is a maximum and a minimum payout for workers on temporary disability.
The maximum and minimum payouts are adjusted annually. The most-up-to-date maximum and minimum can be found on the website of the New Jersey Department of Labor. For a 2015 injury, a worker can obtain a maximum of $855 per week in temporary disability benefits. The minimum a worker could receive is $228 per week.
Employers sometimes fail to accurately calculate your average weekly wages. For example, overtime pay and other benefits may not be properly included in assessing the temporary benefits available to you. If this occurs, you should consult with a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney for help in getting the full amount you are actually entitled to receive.
How Long Do Temporary Disability Benefits Last?
Temporary disability benefits may be paid for as long as you remain disabled. However, you may not receive temporary disability benefits for more than 400 weeks. Your benefits will also end when one of two things happens:
- You are given release to return to work either in the job you held previously or in another job that you can do given your medical problems.
- You reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that your physician or treating doctor indicates that you will not get any better. At this point, you may become eligible for permanent disability benefits if you continue to suffer from health problems or impairments due to your workplace injury.
If your employer tries to end your benefits before you have recovered or tries to force you back to work before your doctor says you are ready, this can be a violation of New Jersey workers’ compensation law. You should consult with a workers’ comp lawyer.
Calculating Temporary Disability Benefits in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the amount a worker is entitled to receive in temporary disability benefits is determined by going through a series of calculations.
First, you must calculate the number of weeks, or portions of weeks, that you are eligible for benefits.
Next, you must determine how many days you were disabled. Count the day you first got hurt or were too ill to work as one full day. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays should be counted. All days will count until the first working day when you can go back to work on a permanent basis.
Then, subtract the number of days, or partial days, that you were able to work while still considered “disabled.” Provided you missed more than seven days of work due to your disability, you will not need to subtract the waiting period from your tally of days. Otherwise, you must subtract the seven-day waiting period.
Once you have calculated the total number of days when your disability stopped you from working, divide this number by seven. The number you arrive at is the required period of time for which you can receive payment for temporary disability.
Doing this calculation is simple and important. The more work days you miss, the more you are entitled to receive in temporary disability benefits.
If you are confused about how to calculate your benefits, or if you believe your employer is not being honest in calculating the amount of compensation payable, then it is important to consult with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer.
What if an Employer Fails to Pay Temporary Disability Benefits?
In New Jersey, when an insurer or a self-insured employer acknowledges a work injury or is directed to pay temporary disability benefits, they must begin to pay right away.
Refusal to pay benefits or other unreasonable/negligent delays or denials will result in a penalty of 25 percent of the amount of benefits due plus legal fees that the injured worker incurs if the worker must get legal help to obtain the benefits.
When an employer or insurer delays in paying temporary disability benefits for 30 days or more, this creates the presumption that the employer acted unreasonably and should be subject to the penalty. The employer will have to argue against (or rebut) the presumption of negligence or unfairness. If the employer cannot make a convincing argument on the unreasonable or negligent delay, then the employer is subject to the 25 percent penalty.
A New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help You Obtain Temporary Disability Benefits
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., our experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys know that it is very stressful when you cannot work and are worried about money coming into your home after a work injury or illness. We will advocate for you to ensure you receive the temporary disability benefits you need to provide for yourself and your family.
Call us toll-free at (800) LAW-2000 or use our online form to schedule a free initial consultation in your home, the hospital or our office. No legal fees are charged for representation unless you receive the benefits you need and deserve.
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