Are you eligible for other benefits besides workers’ comp? If so, how will these benefits impact workers’ compensation?
These are important questions that can have major repercussions on an injured worker’s life. Let our Macon lawyers determine your rights and maximize your benefits.
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Sometimes, clients come to us who are in need of workers’ compensation benefits while they are also collecting other forms of compensation. What many people don’t realize is that this compensation can have an impact on how much they are eligible for under workers’ compensation law. Our job is not only to maintain an awareness of the total income they are receiving, but also to educate our clients on the impact it will have in reducing their workers’ compensation.
At the Georgia law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we handle all aspects of workers’ compensation claims, standing by our clients throughout the entire process. Over the past 50 years, our attorneys have represented hundreds of injured workers in their work injury claims. From evaluating your claim to filing the paperwork to attending hearings on your behalf, we focus on your best interests and the best possible outcome for you and your family.
What is coordination of benefits (COB)?
Properly coordinating benefits is important in order to establish which benefit is primary versus secondary, to clarify which benefit pays necessary expenses and to avoid duplicate payments which might require the injured worker to repay the excess payment down the road (known as “double-dipping”).
Am I eligible for other benefits besides workers’ comp?
We understand that our clients in need of workers’ compensation benefits may be collecting other forms of compensation as well. Our job is not only to maintain an awareness of the income they are receiving, but also to educate our clients on the impact it will have in reducing their workers’ compensation.
Common benefits injured workers receive that often run concurrently with workers’ compensation include:
- Social Security Disability (SSD). SSD is a federal program, whereas workers’ comp is state-run. While you can receive both SSD and workers’ compensation simultaneously if you qualify for both, your SSD payments may be adjusted if you are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Under the Social Security amendments of 1965, the total amount of income you receive from SSD and workers’ compensation should not exceed 80 percent of your prior income/earnings.
- Unemployment. In most states (including Georgia), injured workers cannot receive unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time. However, if you aren’t able to access your workers’ comp benefits immediately because you must dispute or appeal a denial, and you’re unable to work because of your injury, then you may be eligible for some financial aid through unemployment while you await your court date. If you successfully obtain workers’ comp benefits after receiving unemployment, then your employer might be credited for what they’ve already paid you. Specific guidelines from Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act must be followed in order to receive this credit.
- Severance. In some cases, an employer offers a severance package to the injured worker to resign—perhaps because they’re unable (or unwilling) to meet work restrictions. However, before you sign the agreement, it’s vital you have your workers’ comp attorney review the details of the arrangement to determine how it might affect your workers’ comp benefits. Since severance contracts are written by the employer, they’re usually more favorable to the company rather than the individual.
- Pension and retirement. If you’ve worked for a company for years or decades, you might understandably be concerned about how workers’ comp will impact your pension and retirement benefits that you’ve worked hard for. Generally, these benefits (including ERISA and COBRA) are “contractual,” and fall outside the scope of workers’ compensation. However, pension and retirement plan violations may arise during a work injury claim, in which case an experienced workers’ comp attorney is needed to review when an issue may be present and know what steps to take to protect your future.
- Medicare. While you can still claim workers’ compensation if you also receive Medicare, the process for obtaining benefits may differ. Medicare is a federally-funded program, whereas workers’ comp is state-operated. Generally, workers’ comp is primary and pays first, while Medicare is secondary and pays after workers’ comp benefits have been distributed. If workers’ comp denies coverage, then Medicare will step in and pay on a non-conditional basis (meaning it doesn’t have to be paid back later). However, some payments awarded by Medicare are conditional, meaning they must be paid back later—either out of the workers’ comp settlement or out of pocket. When settling your workers’ comp claim, it’s important to know what is owed to Medicare so that you can set aside a special fund known as a Workers’ Compensation Set-aside Arrangement (WCMSA).
- Health insurance. Since most states (including Georgia) require employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance coverage, private health insurance plans generally don’t cover work-related injuries or illnesses. However, filing a workers’ comp claim might negatively impact your employer-sponsored health plan if they retaliate. Fortunately, there are some legal protections given to injured workers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other statutes. However, injured workers may nevertheless find that their employer cuts off their health plan. When this happens, it’s important to consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney near you to discuss other options for obtaining health insurance through Social Security Disability, Medicare or other programs.
- Auto insurance. If you’re involved in a work-related car or truck accident, then you may wonder whether your auto insurance or workers’ comp pays. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation is considered the primary source of benefits for crashes that occur in the course and scope of your employment, which is why it’s vital you notify your employer right away.
Coordinating benefits requires decisions based upon the impact on other benefits and how that compensation affects leverage in a lump-sum settlement. You need a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney at your side with experience in the coordination of benefits and knowledge of Georgia statutes.
“Great staff. Very professional and knowledgeable. Staff went out of their way to accommodate us in every way possible. Made the whole process less painful. They made sure we understood everything that was going on and would answer any questions a hundred times over if needed.”
The resources needed to win
Unlike some work injury attorneys who settle all of their cases, we are not afraid to appeal a denied claim if needed. Our firm has the resources needed to thoroughly prepare, try and win complicated cases.
We are dedicated to doing everything legally and ethically possible to obtain the best results for our injured clients. Hard work and dedication have allowed us to recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims.
Get help from respected Georgia work injury lawyers who are knowledgeable on COB policies
No two workers’ comp cases are the same, and even seemingly “straightforward” claims can quickly become complicated. This complexity increases tenfold when there are other benefits and sources of compensation that must be considered—all while you’re trying to focus on recovery and providing for your family.
If you require assistance in coordinating your benefits as part of your workers’ compensation claim, we encourage you to contact us today for your free consultation. From our offices in Macon, Albany and Warner Robins, we help injured workers throughout Georgia. Don’t settle for less, get more.