Understanding Your Longshore Workers Comp Benefits
Any injury on the job can be stressful, especially if it means you will be out of work for any length of time. In addition to worrying about your ability to regain your health, injuries bring up questions about whether you will have sufficient compensation to pay your bills, provide for your family, and put food on the table.
Understandably, questions arise about what comes next after you make a claim for a legitimate work-related injury. And if you are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (the Longshore Act), a whole new level of questions arise. In this article, workers comp attorneys at the Long Beach-based office of Cantrell Green discuss the Longshore Act and how it applies to workers comp benefits.
Who Falls Under the Longshore Act
The Longshore Act applies if you work in the private sector and are engaged in longshore, harbor, or other maritime occupations on or adjacent to the navigable waters of the U.S.
The Longshore Act makes available many workers comp benefits such as medical benefits for allowed injuries and illnesses, disability benefits designed to partially cover lost wages resulting from a work-related injury or illness, and survivor benefits to beneficiaries of a worker who suffered fatal injuries on the job.
Longshore Workers Comp Medical Benefits
If you become injured on the job and need medical treatment, the Longshore Act covers the cost of any related and necessary medical procedures or appointments. You will not be responsible to pay any deductibles or co-payments for medical treatments, nor are there any costs that you will have to pay.
In addition to this, any associated medical procedures, lab tests and prescription medications are fully covered. Even travel costs and mileage associated with travel to and from medical appointments are covered.
The Longshore Workers Comp system enables you to select your own treating physician, so long as that physician has not had any issues pertaining to the Longshore Act in the past.
Longshore Workers Comp Vocational Rehabilitation
Another valuable benefit of the Longshore Workers Comp system is that it provides vocational rehabilitation services at no charge to you. Vocational rehabilitation assists you in returning to work, or in retraining you for another position in the event you are not able to return to your same job as a result of your injuries. Under the Longshore Workers Comp vocational rehabilitation program, a worker who is actively participating in the rehabilitation is eligible to an additional benefit of $25 per week.
Longshore Workers Comp Disability Benefits
The Longshore Act offers injured workers disability payments that will at least partially cover lost wages that result from the injury. These disability payments are based upon pre-injury wages.
The Longshore Act bases the amount that you will receive in disability payments upon your average weekly wage (AWW). The minimum weekly benefit that a disabled employee would receive is fifty percent of the average weekly wage. The maximum weekly benefit that could be paid is equal to 200% of the average weekly wage.
Similar to workers’ compensation benefits, benefits under the Longshore Act are not taxable by the federal government. Plus, benefits paid under the Longshore Act are adjusted annually for wage inflation – a distinct advantage over most state workers comp programs, which are not.
Longshore Workers Comp Total Disability
The Longshore Workers Comp system determines a worker has a total disability if the worker is unable to earn his or her pre-injury wage because of an injury or illness that is found to be work related. A worker who is entitled to total disability benefits under the Longshore Act receives two-thirds of the wage that was being earned at the time the injury or illness occurred. Total disability benefits are paid to you for life or until such a time as you are no longer considered to be totally disabled.
Longshore Workers Comp Partial Disability
If you recover sufficiently to be able to return to work after your injury, but at a different position that pays less than what you were previously making, then you are considered to be partially disabled. If the partial disability is temporary, then you will receive two-thirds of the difference between what you were making prior to your injury or illness and your current actual earnings.
If you are permanently partially disabled (such as losing a limb), then the Longshore Workers Comp system determines your disability benefit by use of its benefits table. In these cases, you may receive payment for whatever work you are able to do, plus receive permanent partial disability compensation.
Even if an illness or injury does not manifest until after you retire, you may still be able to receive disability benefits after retirement that could equate to approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
Longshore Workers Comp Survivors Benefits
If an employee is fatally injured on the job, the Longshore Act provides payments to the employee’s designated beneficiaries. Generally benefits payable to a surviving spouse continue until he or she passes away or remarries. Benefits payable to minor children usually continue up until they reach the age of 18, or age 23 if the child is a full-time student. In the event that the child has a disability, these benefits will continue for the life of the child.
Sustaining an injury on the job is a very stressful proposition. Fortunately, there are benefits available to injured workers through the Longshore Workers Comp system that can help not only financially, but in planning for the future. Attorneys at the Long Beach-based law offices of Cantrell Green specialize in Longshore Workers Comp and are available to help you navigate through the process of filing your claim, defending it, and ultimately receiving the benefits to which you are entitled. If you have questions about your on-the-job injury, give us a call today for a free consultation to discuss your unique circumstances.
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