What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available in Illinois?
Workers’ compensation provides very important protections to Illinois workers. But, if you’re like most Illinois employees, you probably don’t know much about the specifics of workers’ compensation. When you or someone you love is injured at work, knowledge is power. Understanding your rights, including the benefits you may be entitled to, can make the difference between receiving the compensation you need and struggling during your recovery.
Workers’ compensation covers nearly all work injuries, regardless of whether the employer was in any way responsible for the injury.
Benefits you may receive through Illinois workers’ compensation fall into one of four categories:
1. Medical Benefits
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is responsible for payment of reasonable and necessary medical care in connection with covered work injuries. Medical benefits are wide-ranging, and include doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, hospitalization, and surgery and other procedures.
Illinois allows injured workers a greater degree of choice in selection of a doctor than many other states, though there are some limitations.
2. Wage Replacement Benefits
Another key purposes of workers’ compensation coverage is to ensure that the injured worker has access to income during recovery, or long-term if he or she is medically unable to return to work due to the injury.
Temporary disability benefits may be total or partial. Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are intended for workers who are unable to return to work while they are recovering from their injuries. However, an injured employee may also receive temporary total disability payments if he or she could work with restrictions, but the employer is unable to offer suitable work. A worker receiving temporary total disability benefits will receive 2/3 of the wages he or she was receiving at the time of the injury, subject to a cap. The maximum weekly benefit is currently $1,529.84.
When temporary disability benefits are partial (TPD), the calculation is a bit more complicated. Benefits are paid out at a rate of 2/3 of the difference between the light-duty wages the injured worker is currently receiving and the wages he or she was receiving at the time of the injury. For example, an employee earning $900/week who was placed on restricted duty earning $600/week could expect to receive $200/week in workers’ compensation benefits. Combined wages and benefits will leave the injured worker who returns to work on light duty with more income than one who is receiving However, this benefit is not available if the light-duty assignment pays at least 90% of prior wage.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are similar to temporary total disability benefits, and are paid out at the same rate. But, these benefits are paid when a worker is deemed medically unable ever to return to work, or suffers one of a short list of specific losses.
3. Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Permanent partial disability benefits are in a separate category because they are calculated differently. “Permanent” here refers to the nature of the injury, not to the benefits themselves. Unlike permanent total disability benefits, permanent partial disability payments do not continue for life.
The amount and duration of the benefits depends on the nature of the injury and limitations. Those who are receiving benefits because they have reached their maximum anticipated recovery but are unable to return to work earning at pre-injury levels may receive percentage-based benefits for up to five years or until age 67—whichever comes first.
But, in the case of specific “scheduled” losses, such as amputation or loss of vision, benefits are available for a pre-determined number of weeks based on the injury or loss. Similar formulas determine benefits for serious but unscheduled losses and disfigurement.
4. Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
When an injured worker is unable to return to his or her previous job, workers’ compensation provides for various services to help the employee regain his or her earning potential. In some cases, the services may be as simple as employment counseling and job search assistance. In others, though, helping the employee regain the ability to earn a living involves more extensive services, such as retraining.
Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The Illinois workers’ compensation system, with the comprehensive benefits described above, is intended to ensure that all injured workers have access to medical care, replacement income, and compensation for any enduring losses. Still, the system only works if everyone plays their part. And, unfortunately, some employers and workers’ compensation insurers don’t play by the rules. If you’ve been seriously injured at work and your employer is dragging its feet on processing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, your claim has been denied, or you are not receiving the full benefits your situation warrants, an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can be your best resource.
You can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 630-232-7450 or filling out the contact form on this site.