Workers’ compensation benefits available in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, many workers who are injured on the job or sustain a work-related illness are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. As such, it is important for workers to have a basic understanding of the benefits that they are entitled to.

Medical care

Workers who are covered under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act and who are injured or receive a debilitating illness because of the work are entitled to receive medical benefits. In a nutshell, the workers can receive the payment of reasonable medical and surgical expenses. In addition, benefits to cover the cost of medicine, prostheses, medical supplies and other services are also covered under the act for as long as they are needed. Medical benefits are available even if the worker has not missed a day of work because of the injury or illness.

If the injury results in the worker's death, his or her surviving dependents are entitled to collect death benefits under the act.

Specific losses

Workers who have permanently lost the use of a finger, thumb, arm, leg, foot, hand or toe (as well as their hearing or sight) or has suffered permanent disfigurement to the neck, head or face may be entitled to a specific loss award. The amount of the award is calculated according to tables in the act and is not affected by whether work was missed.

Lost wages

Under the act, a worker may receive wage loss benefits, if it is determined that he or she is unable to work because he or she is totally disabled or is partially disabled and receiving a lower wage than before the injury. In general, workers claiming wage loss benefits receive an amount equal to about two-thirds of their prior wage. However, this amount may be reduced if the worker is collecting other benefits such as Social Security retirement benefits or unemployment compensation.

If the worker is totally disabled, benefits are paid for 104 weeks. After that time, the employer or workers' compensation insurer can require the worker to take a medical examination to determine whether he or she is at least 50 percent disabled. If the 50 percent threshold is not met, the worker's status can change to partially disabled.

Workers that are partially disabled can receive a maximum of 500 weeks of benefits if they can or do return to work at a lower-paying job. While on partial disability status, if the worker obtains a physician's determination indicating that he or she is at least 50 percent disabled, he or she may seek reinstatement of total disability benefits.

While the worker is receiving wage loss benefits, if the employer can demonstrate that another job is available in the immediate geographic area that is within the worker's medical restrictions, the worker may receive an offer of employment. Although the worker has the right to accept or decline this offer, the employer may petition a workers' compensation judge to order the reduction or termination of the wage loss benefits if the offer is declined.

Consult an attorney

The law surrounding workers' compensation is complex and full of exceptions. If you have been injured or become seriously ill while on the job, it is important to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney. An attorney can ensure that you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to.