Do Not Return to Work Without This (Survival Kit)
Do Not Return to Work Without This…
− Jodi Brenner Ginsberg, Georgia Attorney at Law
I have previously written about the importance of never returning to light duty work without a WC-240a form completed by your doctor after being out and receiving temporary total disability benefits. The WC-240 and WC-240a will set out specific limitations for the type of activities you can perform in your light duty.
Board Form WC-240 contains a “Notice to Employee of Offer of Suitable Employment” containing the a job title, rate of pay, hours of work and date light duty work is to start. Form WC-240 is filled out by your employer/insurer. A WC-240a should be attached to the WC-240.
Board Form WC-240a must be completed by your authorized treating physician. It contains a detailed checklist setting out specific activity limitations for your light duty return to work.
If you return to work with a WC-240 and WC-240a and within 15 days, you find that the offered job does not fit within your limitations and you cannot perform the job duties, you can leave the workplace and your TTD benefits will resume automatically (although your employer can subsequently ask for a hearing to terminate your benefits).
If you return to work without a WC-240 description of activity limitations, and cannot perform the job, you also have 15 days to determine whether you can perform your job and thus get an automatic reinstatement of your TTD benefits. However, my experience has been that insurance adjusters are much more likely to challenge your decision to leave a light duty job by filing paperwork to cut off benefits if there is no WC-240 description of a light duty job for you.
If you wait more than 15 days to decide that you cannot perform the light duty job, your benefits will not automatically restart and you will have to wait weeks or months with no income coming in to get a hearing date to bring the matter before a judge.
In my view, the WC-240 and WC-240a protect you by forcing your employer to limit any light duty release to activities within your physical capacity. I think it is much wiser to return to work with specific job limitations set out in a WC-240 and I encourage my clients to pursue this course of action.
Can Your Employer Create a “Make Work” Type of Job to Manipulate Your Claim?
In real life, what sometimes happens is this: the employer creates a make work position for the injured worker mainly for the purpose of cutting off TTD benefits, and ultimately offering a low ball settlement, after which the injured employee will lose his job.
What are your options – do you have to accept a make-work job? The Georgia Court of Appeals considered this question back in 1986 in the case of Clark vs. Georgia Craft Co., and decided that a claimant could justifiably refuse a job where it offered him no challenge and no opportunity for advancement.
The holding in Clark does not mean that a light duty employee can refuse any job offered by his employer, but it does mean that injured employees have some leverage to challenge ridiculous jobs that were created out of thin air and that are designed to manipulate the injured worker into settling his case for a small offer.
In my practice, I look carefully at the restrictions set out in the WC-240a as well as the job description proposed by the employer. While I usually advise my clients to try to work the light duty job I will not allow my clients to endure hostile and inappropriate job settings.
If you are not represented by counsel and believe that you are being bullied to return to work prematurely or without specific WC-240 guidelines, please feel free to call me.
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