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Military service members are not eligible for workers’ compensation for service-related injuries or illnesses. Instead, they’re eligible for disability benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA). VA disability compensation “offers a monthly tax-free payment to veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to veterans whose service made an existing condition worse.”
Ohio’s workers’ compensation system helps injured workers by paying medical benefits and lost wages to employees who are injured or contract an occupational disease on the job.
VA disability benefits and workers’ compensation fulfill very similar roles for injured service members and injured employees. But just because military service members get VA benefits instead of workers’ compensation for service-related injuries and illnesses doesn’t mean they’re ineligible for workers’ compensation, period.
While active-duty service members typically only work at and earn an income through their military positions, reserve service members (whose service capacity is limited to select weekends and brief extended periods of training) usually also have civilian jobs during the week or on weekends they’re not scheduled to train.
As long as the civilian jobs they’re working are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, service members are eligible to receive it if they’re injured or develop an illness at those jobs that prevents them from working. Service members who are retired from active-duty are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they’re injured or become sick while working civilian jobs.
Some service members become disabled while in the line of duty, and they may be forced to retire and be discharged from the military. These service members often continue receiving their VA disability benefits for years to come, and they can also apply for and begin working jobs they’re physically capable of doing in the civilian sector.
Unfortunately, some disabled veterans go on to also suffer injuries while working their civilian jobs. If their jobs provide workers’ compensation benefits, they’re eligible to apply for and receive those benefits, even if they’re already receiving VA disability benefits. However, their workers’ compensation benefits may be reduced based on how much money they receive in VA disability benefits.
The biggest difference between the two types of benefits is their source of funding. VA disability benefits are funded and provided by the federal government. Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, is funded by the state of Ohio for Ohio-based businesses through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and provided to injured workers at employers and companies that are legally required to participate in the program by the state.
These programs also differ in how they award benefits to injured applicants. The VA uses a standardized system for rating injuries to determine how much money injured service members can receive through VA disability benefits. The higher the disability rating, the more money an injured service member will receive each month. Having a spouse and children can also result in more money for disabled service members.
Workers’ compensation benefits are awarded based on the diagnoses that doctors provide for their patients, including the type of the applicants’ disabilities, whether they’re partially or totally disabled, whether their disabilities are temporary or permanent, and how much money their treatments and care are likely to cost.
Whether you’re retired active-duty military, a military reservist, or a lifelong civilian, you deserve workers’ comp benefits if you get injured while working and your employer is required to pay into the BWC. However, you may get conflicting information about this from your employer, especially if you’re a reservist or are already receiving VA disability benefits.
Your military status has no effect on your ability to get workers’ compensation if you get hurt at an eligible civilian job. The Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy have handled many applications and appeals for retired active-duty personnel and reservists, as well as countless civilians, and we know what it takes to win. Contact us anytime for a free consultation.
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