Workers' Compensation and Medical Bills
In Iowa, workers' compensation benefits cover the medical bills and expenses workers reasonably incur because of on-the-job injuries. Unlike other states, Iowa allows your employer to choose what workers' compensation doctor
you see for your injuries. That said, you can file a petition to ask permission to see a different doctor in some cases.
What Do I Qualify for Besides Workers' Compensation Medical Bill Coverage?
Workers' compensation provides you and your family with financial support while you are injured and unable to work. Workers' compensation may also cover vocational rehabilitation costs if your injury will prevent you from doing the same or similar job that you did before the accident.
Four Types of Workers' Compensation Disability Benefits
Your employer's workers' compensation insurance may cover medical bills, along with disability benefits. There are four main types of disability benefits under Iowa law
. We cover the remaining types in the next section. For now, let's go over the four main categories of disability benefits.
Keep in mind that not everyone is eligible for every type of benefit. For example, if your injury or loss is part of the Iowa workers' compensation body parts chart (also called, “scheduled losses”), then that may determine the amount and type of benefits that you receive. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you apply for and understand the benefits' system in Iowa.
Temporary Total Disability
Temporary total disability benefits kick in if the injury keeps you from working for longer than 3 calendar (vs. business) days. If you are eligible for these benefits, you will start to receive them on the fourth calendar day that you are unable to work. Recipients get these benefits until you return to work (at the same or similar job) or are given medical clearance to return to work.
If you are off work for 14 days, you may receive compensation for the first three days (called the waiting period) that you were unable to work.
Temporary Partial Disability
Temporary partial disability serves to cover the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages. Let's say you suffer an on-the-job injury. You miss at least three calendar days of work. After going through treatment, you return to work, but – because of your injury – you can't earn as much as you did before. Temporary partial disability benefits compensate you for this loss, earning you 66 and 2/3% of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages.
Eligible workers typically continue to receive these benefits while they are earning less than they were before.
Permanent Partial Disability
You may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits if the injury causes a permanent impairment to your body, a permanent physical restriction, or a permanent loss in earning capacity. For example, let's say that Bob tears his rotator cuff in a terrible work accident. Bob promptly reports the injury and receives treatment. Bob follows all medical advice from his doctor, including having the expensive surgery and complying with all physical therapy exercises. Unfortunately, Bob can no longer lift his arm above his shoulder, and his doctors say that there is nothing more for him to do. Even though Bob has reached maximum medical improvement, he will have this permanent restriction going forward. Bob may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits.
Permanent Total Disability
If your work injury prevents you from getting gainful employment and earning meaningful wages in the future, then you may be eligible for permanent total disability. This may be the case if you lost the use of more than one limb or suffered a permanent brain injury.
In addition to workers' compensation medical bill coverage, benefits for other important costs are available to employees. Workers' compensation benefits may also extend to rehabilitation of an injury, such as paying for physical therapy or occupational therapy. In some cases, it covers task retraining for specific job duties or for new positions that you are better suited to because of the injury. Workers' compensation benefits may also provide disability payments while you are unable to work.