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Can You Go Back to Work After Receiving Permanent Disability Benefits?

March 8, 2021

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When most people think of permanent disability benefits, they think of people who suffered injuries and illnesses serious enough to keep them out of work for the rest of their lives. And while it’s true that the benefits they receive are intended to replace an income, many of those disability recipients want to go back to work, but are unsure how doing so will affect their benefits, especially if they are unsure if they can earn enough without benefits to pay their daily expenses.

Disabilities vary from person to person, and while some disabilities make it more difficult to work or force victims to change jobs or careers, other disabilities can make it impossible to work or hold down any job. The difference between those disabilities is factored in when victims are approved to receive either permanent partial disability benefits or permanent total disability benefits, and being able to go back to work depends on which of the two victims receive.

Permanent Partial Disability Recipients Can Go Back to Work and Retain Their Benefits

When workers suffer injuries or illnesses that make it more difficult for them to work, it can often force them to perform fewer hours or different types of work than they previously performed, but doesn’t always keep them out of the job market altogether. Workers who suffer from the following conditions may receive permanent partial disability benefits:

  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of vision in one eye
  • Hearing loss
  • Back or knee injury
  • Nerve damage

Because any of these injuries affect victims’ ability to work at full capacity, they’re eligible to receive benefits that recoup some of the money they may lose out on over the course of their lives. However, the benefits are reduced compared to permanent total disability benefits because victims are still capable of working to some degree (and many can continue working full time).

The amount of income that workers with permanent partial disability benefits can receive is based on their disability rating assigned by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. For example, a worker who suffered a serious hand injury but still possesses partial use of his hand may have a disability rating of 15%, which is also the maximum amount of benefits he can receive.

Permanent Total Disability Recipients Can’t Go Back to Work and Retain Their Benefits

When the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rules that a worker is too hurt to ever return to work, they may receive permanent total disability benefits. Injuries that qualify victims for these types of benefits include:

  • Loss of or full disability of both hands
  • Loss of or full disability of both arms
  • Loss of or full disability of both feet
  • Loss of or full disability of both legs
  • Total blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Severe traumatic brain injury

People receiving permanent total disability benefits can’t return to work and continue to receive their benefits while their disabilities are impairing them, which for most is the rest of their lives. However, they CAN return to work if they’re okay with losing their benefits.

For example, a worker with a permanent total disability may want to enter the workforce again in a different capacity than at their last job. Although they have a profound disability, their new job may allow them to work despite this limitation, and they may earn more money than through their disability benefits. In this case, it can make sense for them to return to work and forgo their disability payments.

Need Disability Benefits? We Want to Help.

Deciding whether to return to work after you’ve already been approved to receive disability benefits is a luxury for many injured people. That’s because getting approved for any benefits at all is often an uphill battle. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has strict criteria for approving applications, and that means many otherwise valid applications get overlooked or rejected.

If you need help with any aspect of your claim, whether it’s filing for the first time or even appealing the Bureau’s decision, our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help. Contact Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today for a free consultation. We have decades of experience assisting injured workers like you, and we know what it takes to win.

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