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Injured And Unable To Work? Here Are Your Next Steps.

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Business, Health & Wellness, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThySistas.comOnce we’ve put in the work and established a certain degree of stability in our lives, it can be easy to assume that it will always be there. True, many people carve out a career for themselves, and make it to retirement without any major setbacks. However, a lot of us aren’t so lucky. Countless people have had life throw them a fast one, and suffered a serious injury that leaves them unable to work. This can obviously be a huge financial blow, and when it happens it’s important to know what action to take. Here’s a guide to help you work through your bad luck and get your life back on track.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first. The current system in America isn’t doing injured workers any big favors. Yes, if you’re injured on the job due to some kind of negligence from your company, then compensation and assistance can often be just around the corner. However, if you suffer an injury outside of your workplace, your options are going to be a little more limited. When you find out that you’re not going to get any kind of big pay-out from your work immediately, it can feel like you’re on your own, and out of any viable options for repairing and protecting your personal finances.blackwomaninjured

However, there are still many things you can do to make ends meet having been taken out of work. After you’ve seen a doctor or other medical professional, and fully understand the extent of your injury, you need to get into contact with your employer and let them know what’s happening. If someone else was responsible for your injury, then you may want to talk to an accident lawyer as well to review your options for legal action. Most importantly of all, you need to talk to your boss, explain the injury in detail, tell them how long you’re expected to be out of work and find out whether or not you need a doctor’s note.

After this, it’s time to figure out how many sick days, vacation days, and other forms of time off you have which will allow you to keep out of work while still keeping your job. Unfortunately, once you’ve used up all your sick and vacation leave, you don’t have an automatic right to keep your job. If you can’t fulfil your job description, then your employer is well within their rights to let you go. Depending on the size and entity of the company you work for, however, there may be certain laws which can help you out. For example, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, if you’re employed by a company with 50 or more employees, and you’ve been working there for a year or more, you’ll be entitled to 12 weeks of leave. Unfortunately, you won’t get paid for that time.

However, depending on your injury, it could see you through your recovery and guarantee your employment. You should also note that companies with more than 15 workers are legally required to accommodate for injured employees who are unable to work due to their condition. This might mean time off, or simply adjusted working hours, special equipment or other measures. It all depends on the details of your injury. In this mobile world of ours, it’s more and more common for people to have jobs that really don’t require them to be in the office. If you think you can do it, ask your employer about any possibility of you continuing your role from home.

If you’ve been especially unlucky, and your injury is so severe that the doctors have said that you’ll never be able to return to work, then your next step should be applying for Social Security disability benefits. Naturally, if you’ve never had to rely on state financial help before, you may hate the idea of this. It can be a huge blow to your sense of independence, and claimants don’t exactly have a great reputation in many circles in America. Having said that, social services are important, and exist for this exact reason; giving help to those who need it. Don’t be too proud to look into this option.

Just remember that the system isn’t as open and liberal as many people seem to believe, and this isn’t going to change with Trump poised to take the White House. To ensure that state support gets to the people who really need it, the system has had to turn down more and more people in recent years. If, for example, you’re in your twenties and say you can’t work on account of a bad back, your application probably isn’t going to be pushed through unless you have a serious mental condition to go with it, like depression or anxiety.

Having said that, it may be possible for you to get “temporary disability” benefits from a state-run program, depending on where you live. Some states, including Hawaii, New York, California and Rhode Island, run programs where injured employees can claim benefits through temporary disability insurance. These states will often pay wage replacement for a period of six to twelve months. However, this will depend on whether or not your employer pays short or long term group disability insurance for their employees. This kind of policy will typically pay 50 to 80 percent of your monthly salary, until you’re able to go back to work again. If you’ve been injured and you know you won’t be able to work for some time, get in touch with your company’s HR as soon as possible. Ask them if you’re covered by ERISA insurance, and what the procedure for filing a claim is. Timely filing regulations till apply in these situations, so the sooner you act on it the better off you’ll be.

Having an injury that takes you out of work can be a long, painful, and extremely frustrating experience. Still, I hope the advice in this guide has given you some small relief in this difficult time.

Staff Writer; Nicole Wells


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