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Do I Have to Go Back to Work if My Doctor Clears Me While I’m Receiving Workers’ Compensation?

April 25, 2022

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If you were hurt on the job and are receiving workers’ compensation, you may be wondering when you’ll have to return to work. For many injured workers, recovering from their injuries can be stressful. Many workers are eager to get back on the job, while others are afraid of going back to work too soon and re-aggravating their injuries.

While on workers’ compensation, you’ve been seeing a doctor who has been monitoring your progress and recovery. As long as you haven’t been ruled permanently disabled, you will eventually recover enough to go back to work, whether it’s doing your old job or a new job. However, determining whether you’ve recovered enough is up to your doctor.

If Your Doctor Clears You, You’re Required to Return to Work

Most workers’ compensation cases are for temporary benefits. In these cases, the program is designed to pay for workers’ medical bills and a percentage of their wages while they recover from their injuries. When they get better, they’re supposed to return to work. That means that if your doctor says you’ve recovered enough to work, you lose your workers’ compensation benefits and must return to your job.

Employers want workers back on the job right away. Because employers get to choose which doctors their injured workers see, your doctor may feel pressure to clear you to return to work early. This is why it’s important to be honest with your doctor throughout your recovery and point out any pain and immobility you experience. This can help you avoid being rushed back to work too soon after your injury.

You Can Appeal Your Doctor’s Decision if You Think It’s Too Soon to Go Back

No one knows your injury, your body, and your ability to work better than you do. If your doctor diagnoses you as having fully or mostly recovered from your injury and you don’t agree, tell them that. If they’re adamant that you return to work, seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Note, however, that using a doctor outside of the one provided by your employer must be paid for by your health insurance policy or out of your pocket. Despite this added cost, it can be worthwhile if you don’t think you’re ready to go back to work and your employer-provided doctor isn’t open to your concerns or is rushing you back to work.

When Should You Go Back to Work?

The biggest benefit of going back to work is earning more money. Workers’ compensation only pays a percentage of injured workers’ weekly wages. If you’re no longer receiving medical treatments for your injury, you’re mostly or completely pain-free, and you’re ready to do your job again, you should return to work when you’re cleared to do so.

Another option for returning to work early or before you feel like you’re ready is if your doctor orders certain restrictions or your employer assigns you different tasks. For example, your doctor may forbid you from lifting heavy objects, or your employer may change your role to include more administrative tasks rather than manual labor tasks.

When Should You NOT Go Back to Work?

Being told you need to go back to work before you feel like you’ve recovered from your injury can be stressful and even frightening. You may worry about suffering a more severe or even permanent injury before you’ve had a chance to fully heal. In this case, listen to your gut feelings on the matter—if you think it’s too early, it probably is.

Doctors don’t always spend enough time with workers’ compensation recipients to determine their true level of recovery, and they also don’t fully understand the physical demands their patients’ jobs entail. Getting a second opinion from another doctor, asking for lighter-duty work, and getting in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you avoid serious injury if you’re told to return to work too early.

Let Us Help with All Aspects of Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Whether you’re thinking about applying for workers’ compensation, had your application denied, or are struggling with an uncooperative doctor or employer, we want to speak with you. Our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers have decades of experience helping people navigate this beneficial but highly complex government program, and we know how to get you the results you want.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll work hard to protect your rights to the benefits you’re owed, while also ensuring you avoid any mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.

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