When pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, a quick web search will provide useful information on the basic structure of the Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation statute and lost time benefits available. Generally, an injured worker who is disabled as the result of an on the job injury is entitled to a weekly benefit equal to 60% of their gross earnings plus reasonable and necessary medical expense coverage. What about the “unadvertised benefits”? Often times certain payment and reimbursement rights are not readily offered by the insurers responsible for such payments.
An injured worker is entitled to a mileage reimbursement at the rate of 45 cents per mile for travel to and from doctors’ visits, surgical procedures, testing, physical therapy and the like. Over the life of a claim involving extensive treatment, these payments can total hundreds of dollars.
In many instances, such as when a claim is disputed, injured workers need to utilize their private health insurance to ensure timely access to appropriate medical treatment. Claimants are entitled to reimbursement for co-pays and other out of pocket medical expenses.
A claimant’s weekly compensation rate is based on their gross average weekly wage. Insurers often pay a claim based on an estimated rate. Injured workers are entitled to have overtime, bonuses and other incidental earnings included when calculating their average weekly wage and resulting compensation rate. Calculating a person’s true average weekly wage can have a huge impact as the overall value of a claim is based on the full weekly wage and resulting compensation rate.
Obtaining representation at the early stages of a workers’ compensation claim can ensure access to the full range of benefits and reimbursements due under the workers’ compensation statute. These additional benefits are most needed and appreciated by clients who are already feeling the financial strain arising out of their inability to earn their usual wages due to their work related disability.
Early representation with respect to Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits is also advisable. While many law firms do not accept clients until their claims reach the hearing level, our firm begins representation as early on in the life of claim as possible, including the initial filings. Technological advances have made it possible for representatives to file online applications for Social Security disability benefits. By filing in this manner, representatives are better able to track the status of the claims and ensure that all documents are filed properly and in a timely manner.
The timeline from initial application to the receipt of an award of benefits can often be years. Most claimants are already feeling tremendous financial strain during these periods of disability and are anxious to receive a favorable award as soon as possible. By accepting cases as early as the initial filing stage, we are able to make sure all relevant medical documentation is included in the record, communicate and coordinate with case workers and ensure that there are no errors with respect to the way the claims are being processed. We have had great success in obtaining early benefit awards by working closely with the Social Security caseworkers responsible for the claims.
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