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What Are The Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

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Factory working on steel inside a warehouse.

If you have been injured at work, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation. You may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits if a family member suffered fatal injuries from a work-related accident. 

Factory working on steel inside a warehouse.

 Illinois employers are required by law to carry worker’s compensation insurance to cover employees who are injured on the job. Worker’s compensation insurance protects both the worker and the employer.  Employees who are injured at work do not have to prove fault for work-related injuries, and employers will not be held liable for work-related injuries.

What Are the Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

There are four main types of workers’ compensation insurance benefits that you may be entitled to. A Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand what type of compensation you are likely to receive, depending on your unique situation. The primary the four types of worker’s compensation benefits are medical, lost wage, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits.

Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefits

Workers’ compensation should cover most all medical expenses for a work-related injury. Possible medical expenses may include surgery, hospital visits, doctor appointments, and medications. Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, should also be covered by medical coverage. If your injury requires long-term care, such as physical therapy, this should also be covered by workers’ compensation

Worker’s compensation medical expense coverage is not limited to a certain dollar amount. Any injuries that occur while you are on the clock are covered. You cannot, however, recover for injuries that occur outside the scope of employment. For example, workers’ compensation benefits generally will not cover injuries you suffer in a motor vehicle accident while driving to or from work.

Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

If you are unable to return to work after suffering a workplace injury, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits. The goal of vocational rehabilitation is to allow the injured employee to return to a job that pays close to what they were earning prior to the injury. Vocational rehabilitation refers to a wide range of services designed to help a worker return to their job or enter a new line of work. Vocational rehabilitation programs are tailored to the individual employees, but often include services such as:

  • Skills evaluation
  • Job placement services
  • Job training
  • Career counseling
  • Additional education courses

If your work-related injury results in the need for vocational rehabilitation, a vocational rehabilitation counselor will customize a rehabilitation plan based on your skills and abilities.

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

Workers’ compensation death benefits are paid to the relatives of an employee that has died from a fatal work-related accident. Death benefits are paid to the primary beneficiary, which is usually the worker’s spouse or dependent children. If no primary dependents exist, the payments can be made to totally dependent parents. If no totally dependent parents exist, death benefits may be paid to other relatives who are partially dependent on the worker at the time of death, such as step-children or siblings.

Workers’ compensation death benefits are intended to provide financial support to the family of the deceased and also to cover funeral and burial costs. Under Illinois workers’ compensation laws, a beneficiary is entitled to 66% of the worker’s average weekly wages during the 52 weeks prior to the worker’s death. These benefits are paid for up to 25 years or up to $500,000. Beneficiaries may also receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses for the deceased worker. In Illinois, these funeral and burial benefits are capped at $8,000. 

What To Do if You Are Injured at Work

You will want to report a workplace injury or illness as soon as you become aware of it. Some injuries, such as those that occur in a workplace accident, are immediately obvious and should be reported right away. Other injuries, however, such as illness from exposure to toxins, or repetitive use injuries may develop over time. Illinois workers’ compensation law requires that workplace injuries be reported within 45 days of the worker realizing the cause of the injury. You must report the accident to a supervisor or manager. 

For an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, two requirements must be met. First, the injured worker must be categorized as an employee. If the worker falls into some other category, such as an independent contractor or volunteer, the injury will not be covered by workers’ compensation. Second, the injury must have occurred as the result of the employment.

It is a good idea to keep detailed notes about the accident, any witnesses to the accident, and who you reported the accident. Once you have reported your injury, the worker’s compensation insurance company will review the claim and determine if you are eligible for compensation. 

How Long Can an Injured Worker Receive Wage Replacement Benefits?

How long you can receive workers’ compensation in Illinois will depend on the type and severity of your injuries. Wage replacement benefits also referred to as disability benefits, are awarded if a work-related injury leaves you unable to work or unable to perform the same job duties as before. Wage replacement benefits are paid directly to the employee to help replace the income they have lost while seeking treatment or recovering from a work-related injury. 

Work-related injuries are categorized into one of four categories – temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial, and permanent total disability. The category your injury falls in will determine how long you may be able to receive wage replacement benefits. 

Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary Partial Disability benefits are for employees who are able to return to work but cannot perform the same duties they had pre-injury. Workers with a temporary partial disability may be assigned to perform light-duty work, or they may need to work part-time while they recover from their injuries. This type of compensation is intended to make up for some of the difference between what you are able to earn while recovering and what you were earning prior to the injury. Temporary Partial Disability benefits end when a doctor determines that you have healed to the maximum extent possible.

Temporary Total Disability

Temporary Total Disability is intended to compensate workers who are unable to return to work on a temporary basis due to their work-related injuries. These benefits will end once the employee has recovered and is able to return to work.

Permanent Partial Disability

Permanent Partial Disability refers to an injury that has left the employee with partial loss of a body part or their body as a whole. A Permanent Partial Disability is an injury that prevents you from doing some of the things you were able to do before the work-related injury. If you are able to go back to work, but at a lower wage due to a Permanent Partial Disability, you may be awarded a wage differential. This type of compensation lasts can last up to 5 years, or until you reach the age of 67.

Permanent Total Disability

Permanent Total Disability is the most severe category of a work-related injury. To be considered a Permanent Total Disability, the injury must leave you permanently unable to work. If a work-related injury causes you to lose the use of both legs, both arms, both hands, both feet, both eyes, or any combination of two body parts, it is considered a Permanent Total Disability. If it is determined that your injury resulted in a Permanent Total Disability by workers’ compensation, you are usually eligible to receive compensation for the remainder of your life.

How Is Workers’ Compensation Calculated?

Illinois has statewide schedules that indicate how much compensation an injured worker should receive. The schedule includes a list of body parts such as thumb, foot, leg, or eye. Each body part is assigned a number of weeks. To determine the total amount of compensation you are entitled to, you would multiply 60% of your average weekly earnings by the number of weeks indicated in the schedule. 

If you injure a body part that is not listed on the schedule, you would receive 60% of your average weekly income for a certain number of weeks based on the disability rating your doctor assigns to the injury. If a work-related injury leaves you permanently disfigured, you may be able to receive compensation equal to 60% of your average weekly wage for up to 162 weeks.

Employees who are temporarily unable to work at all due to a work-related injury are entitled to compensation of 66.67% of their average weekly income for the period of time they are unable to work. An employee who is considered Permanently Totally Disabled is entitled to receive 2/3 of their average weekly income for life. A workers’ compensation attorney may help you understand what are the four types of workers’ compensation benefits, your entitlement rights, and what you can reasonably expect to recover.

About the Author

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Years of Experience: Over 35 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar