The workers’ compensation system exists in part to help employees avoid unnecessary hardship after a work injury or illness. When an injury forces an employee to miss work, he can lose out on wages that are vital to the security and stability of himself and his family. This lost income only adds financial stress to an already painful and difficult situation. The workers’ compensation system aims to help employees avoid that by offering wage replacement and medical care benefits. The timing of these payments can lag, however, and many injured workers and their families worry about when they will be able to obtain benefits.
When to Expect Your Iowa Workers’ Compensation Payments
In Iowa, an injured worker can file for and obtain workers’ compensation benefits within certain time frames. Medical benefits are available for any work-related injury regardless of the amount of time away from the job, if any at all. Wage replacement benefits are offered once an employee has missed three days of work, and payment is typically sent by the 11th day of disability if all the proper paperwork has been filed and approved. More complicated cases or those lacking the appropriate documentation may take longer.
Rushing Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Iowa
Injured workers who find themselves under financial strain before the workers’ compensation benefits are paid may want to expedite the payment process. Unfortunately, it is not possible to rush workers’ compensation payments. Each injury claim must follow the steps through the system, which does not allow for circumstances for faster payment. The most effective way to ensure prompt payment of your benefits is to make sure you:
- Seek medical help right away.
- File an injury report with your employer as soon as possible.
- Respond to all requests for information promptly.
- Retain all documents related to your accident, injury, and medical care and provide them when necessary.
Following those steps will help ensure your claim will not be held up or denied unnecessarily.
Social Security Disability Benefits Can be Expedited
While workers’ compensation benefits cannot be rushed, there are other benefits that may be obtained sooner. Some injured workers are eligible for both workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits. For those workers, there are times when the Social Security Administration (SSA) will expedite an injury claim, and they include:
- Compassionate allowances. If you suffer a condition on the list of compassionate allowances, the SSA will most likely approve your case. You must be diagnosed with the condition and meet the listings for impairment for the condition.
- Dire need. If a claimant does not have sufficient means to get food, shelter, and medication, the SSA may choose to expedite a claim. To be considered in dire need, a claimant must let the SSA know that they cannot afford to buy food or medicine, are facing eviction or foreclosure, or have had their utilities shut off due to the inability to pay. Claimants should be prepared to show paperwork supporting the claims.
- Military personnel. Past and present members of the military can get their claims expedited as long as the condition began during active duty and the onset date was on or after October 1, 2001.
- Safety. If a claimant is a threat to the public or themselves, the SSA can expedite a claim.
- Terminal illness. If a claimant has an illness that is expected to result in death, the SSA will flag the claim to be expedited. Conditions such as ALS and AIDS, or enrollment in end-of-life programs such as hospice, would alert the SSA. A claimant on life support, oxygen, a wait list for a vital organ or bone marrow transplant, or with certain cancers would also qualify.
Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Not every employee who suffers a work injury is eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The benefits are meant for workers who are injured before they reach retirement age. There are a number of criteria to meet to obtain these benefits, and they include:
- Worker must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security (those that pay Social Security tax).
- Worker must have worked for a certain number of years in the covered job(s).
- Worker must have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability, which typically means you are experiencing a long-term, total disability.
Filing for Iowa workers’ compensation or Social Security disability and having payments expedited can be a complicated process. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious, job-related injury, contact the experienced lawyers at Pothitakis Law Firm to learn more about your rights and legal options. Make sure your family is able to obtain the maximum amount of compensation in the timeliest manner so you can move forward from your injury successfully. Take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page, and you will receive a prompt response from a member of our team who can answer your questions and get you started today.