What if My Employer Allows Me to Return to Work with Restrictions, but at Reduced Hours?

TPD is owed to injured workers who return to work with reduced hours

Injured Indiana workers with worker’s comp cases are frequently taken off work while they recover from work-related injuries.  During that time they receive something called Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits.  But sometimes, the doctor eases restrictions to the point where an employer will allow an employee to return to work with those restrictions, but often at reduced hours.  In that circumstance, the employee may be entitled to something called Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits, consisting of 2/3 of the difference between an employee’s pre-injury wages and his/her post-injury wages. 

Case Study

That situation came up for a client of mine just recently.  She has an active worker’s comp case that started after getting hurt at the restaurant she works for.  Originally ordered off work for a few months following the injury, her condition has improved to the point where the doctor is now allowing a return to work with restrictions.  She was told, though, that since she wasn’t yet able to perform her full duties, they would not be able to offer all the hours she was used to working.  This basically would result in a pay cut.

Up until this time she had been receiving temporary total disability benefits and everything has been going smoothly with that, but she was worried about the pay cut and wasn’t sure if she should accept.  As I explained in another blog post, I told her she should absolutely accept the return to work offer, even though the hours were reduced.

Accepting the return-to-work offer was absolutely the right thing to do because, luckily for her and all injured Indiana workers, Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation Act says that in these situations, injured workers shall be paid Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits.  This right to TPD lasts from the date an injured worker returns to work until the date the treating doctor releases the injured worker at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). 

In my experience, worker’s compensation cases are stressful for injured employees.  My clients see the opportunity to go back to work, even on limited duty or for limited hours, as one less thing to worry about.  It also is a sign that things will eventually get back to normal.  The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act helps because injured workers know that the wage reduction – at least temporarily – will be made up while they continue to work toward full recovery from their injuries.

Be Sure TPD is Paid if It’s Owed

Employers and their Worker’s Comp insurance companies are usually pretty good about paying Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits to injured workers, but once employee go back to work on limited duty and are entitled to Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), they frequently find themselves struggling to convince the worker’s compensation insurance company that they should be paid temporary partial disability benefits.  This is because TPD does not come up as often and it is not as well understood by injured workers.

Worker’s comp insurance companies may try to take advantage of workers that don’t understand they may be entitled to TPD once they return to work.  Many of them may simply do nothing, waiting for the injured employee to remind them it’s due. Sometimes, the employer fails to adequately communicate to the worker’s comp insurance company that an injured worker’s hours are reduced.  Whatever the reason given, we frequently see a failure on the part of worker’s comp insurance companies to pay TPD.

The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board provides resources related to Indiana Worker’s Compensation claims, but their ability to help injured workers can be limited. Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re back to work while still under a doctor’s care, but feel like you’re not receiving the same wages that you were receiving before because of the limitations, it may be best to seek out a free consultation.  At Hewins Law Firm, the initial consultation is always free.