While some states restrict the amount of time individuals can receive workers' comp benefits and be out of work, Iowa doesn't have a specific time limit. Workers can continue to receive benefits as long as they receive regular treatment to improve their condition and have yet to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) status.

How Long Can You Be On Workers' Comp in Iowa

How Workers' Comp Claims Work in Iowa

If employees get work-related injuries or illnesses, they have 90 days to notify their employers of the injury or illness. The employer or his or her insurance company would then need to file a “First Report of Injury or Illness” report in the next four days.

After filing all necessary forms, injured or ill employees can then receive workers' compensation benefits.

Statutes of Limitations for Workers' Comp in Iowa

Workers should keep in mind that Iowa has a couple of statutes of limitations in place around workers' compensation benefits.

First, the two-year statute of limitations applies to initial benefits. Specifically, employees may not qualify for benefits if they don't receive them within two years from the date of the initial work-related incident. Employees must also file an application for arbitration within two years of the incident.

A three-year statute of limitations will apply to additional benefits. If employees have already received benefits, they will have three years as of the last payment to receive additional benefits.

The Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits Employees Can Receive

If an employee sustains an injury or develops an illness because of his or her job, he or she may be able to receive a number of workers' comp benefits in Iowa, including:

Medical Treatment

Workers' compensation benefits may cover medical care to treat an injury or illness, including the travel expenses required to visit and return from medical professionals for appointments.

Temporary Total Disability Payments

If a worker is unable to work because of a disability for more than three calendar days, he or she may be able to receive temporary total disability payments. If the disability lasts for over 14 days, the employee may also qualify for benefits for the three-day waiting period.

Temporary Partial Disability Payments

Sometimes, employees may sustain injuries that enable them to return to work, but in a different capacity and in roles with reduced pay. Temporary partial disability payments may help compensate for the difference in earnings.

Permanent Total Disability Benefits

Workers may be eligible to receive permanent total disability benefits if they are completely unable to work due to their injury or illness.

Lost Wages

If employees need to take time off of work to recover, workers' comp benefits may cover missed wages, along with other healing period benefits.

Ongoing Medical Care

If an injury or illness requires long-term medical treatment, such as physical therapy, workers could receive benefits for ongoing care. Iowa enables employers to designate medical providers for employees. However, employees can apply to Iowa's workers' comp commissioner to seek alternate care.

Adjuster Tricks to Keep in Mind

Workers need to understand that workers' compensation insurance adjusters aren't truly on their side. They work in the best interests of the company and will attempt to reach the lowest possible compensation amount.

The following are a few workers' comp adjuster tricks for claimants to avoid:

Requesting a Recorded Statement

Adjusters may ask for a recorded statement, which could entail the claimant providing a statement recorded by phone or video. However, work injury victims don't need to provide a recorded statement to receive benefits.

Hiring Investigators

Insurers may hire investigators to watch injured workers outside their homes and observe them on social media. This is why it's best for employees to avoid posting anything that might hurt their claims on social media or engage in other behavior at home that could lead adjusters to question the extent of the injury or illness.

What to Avoid Saying to Workers' Comp Doctors

To maximize the amount of potential workers' compensation, employees also need to avoid saying certain things. Some of what not to say to workers' comp doctors includes:

  • Exaggerating symptoms
  • Speaking negatively about the employer
  • Lies about injuries or the extent of them

By saying the right thing to workers' comp doctors, employees can begin receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment to start the recovery process. They'll also be able to support their injury claims when filing for workers' comp benefits.

How Long Workers Can Be on Workers' Comp

Generally, as long as employees continue to seek treatment for their work-related injury or illness and haven't achieved MMI, they will qualify indefinitely for workers' compensation benefits. Some states have a maximum of 12 to 24 months, but this isn't the case in Iowa.

Photo of Niko Pothitakis
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.