New Pennsylvania debit card for workers’ comp payments

For injured workers in Pennsylvania there is now a new debit card system to handle some workers' compensation payments. The days of waiting for a check to arrive in the mail are gone and now payments are direct deposited or placed on refillable debit cards.

The State began sending new gold debit cards to workers' comp recipients between February 28 and March 11. The new cards need to be activated upon receipt. Payments for wage-loss and medical expenses switched over to the new gold cards on March 15 and should be available.

One benefit that the State saw in moving to Chase as a provider is its ATM network, which offers cash withdrawals at no fee. The new program increases the number of in-network ATMs by 25 percent.

Those who still have blue debit cards should spend the money remaining. Money will be available through September 14 through the old blue debit cards. No new payments will be made to these cards.

Workers' compensation coverage

The Pennsylvania Worker's Compensation Act covers most employees in the state. Following a Pennsylvania workplace injury or work-related illness, you can request compensation for medical expenses and wage-loss benefits until you have healed and can return to work. In the most tragic circumstances, when a loved one dies in a fatal workplace accident, death benefits are available for dependents.

Reporting a workplace injury or illness

After a work-related injury or illness, it is important to report what happened to your employer or supervisor. Failure to notify an employer in a timely manner can result in the delay of benefits or denial in worst-case scenarios.

It is almost never a good idea to take paid time off in the form of vacation or sick leave without informing your employer of a work injury or illness while recovering. While the fear that a job accommodation or termination will result from bring up the workplace injury, generally employers are not allowed to make adverse employment decisions based on a workers' compensation filing.

To provide an example, assume a delivery driver strains her back while delivering a package up steep stairs. She may not want to bother her employer, because she assumes it is just a slight injury and will go away in a day or two. However, if the injury is more serious or progressively gets worse requiring surgery, it may become more difficult for her to prove the back injury was work-related because she never reported the initial injury.

Following a workplace injury, seek the counsel of an experienced Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney. Timing is important in workers' compensation cases. A denial of benefits is a possibility, if notification is not prompt or the proper evidence is lacking. Speaking with an attorney immediately following the injury is one way to make sure your rights are protected.