As THE Virginia’s workers’ compensation law firm, HammondTownsend helps hundreds of injured workers navigate the legal process of handling workers’ comp claims. The workers’ compensation process in Virginia can be complex. Because our law firm exclusively practices workers’ compensation law, we are a top-notch resource for questions you may have along the way. Here is a wrap-up of the most frequently asked workers’ compensation questions that we received this year, answered.
#1: Does Workers’ Compensation Count As Income?
If you’re injured at work, you’ll file for workers’ compensation benefits for your medical bills and missing income. Whether or not your workers’ comp benefits count as income varies depending on what type of income you’re looking at.
The following information is for general guidance only and should not be taken as tax advice. Speak with your tax preparer about your specific situation if you have any questions.
The following types of workers’ comp money are generally tax-free:
- Money for medical bills for treating your work-related injury
- Money for temporary disability
- Money for permanent disability
- Money for death benefits
You typically do not need to pay federal tax or state (Virginia) tax on any of the above listed money.
Workers’ compensation benefits can impact programs with income limits. These programs include: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps), and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF).
Workers’ compensation benefits are required to be reported when applying for federal student loans or FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Social Security benefits may be impacted by your workers’ compensation. Each situation is unique depending on your specific circumstances.
If you retire after being hurt at work, you will have to pay income tax on your retirement income, just as you would if you retired when you planned. Money coming out of a 401K or IRA will have the same taxes as it normally would.
Read more in our blog answering the question, Does Workers’ Comp Count As Income.
#2: Does Workers’ Compensation Come Out Of My Paycheck?
Workers’ compensation benefits are available for people who are injured or become ill because of their job. Since the money is in response to an issue at work, you might worry that workers’ comp comes out of your paycheck. The benefits don’t come out of your paycheck, but if the injury means you can’t work your regular job your paycheck may still be reduced.
Workers’ compensation benefits do not come out of your paycheck. The workers’ comp insurance company that your employer is insured by pays those benefits.
Your injury at work may cause you to have a reduced paycheck if you can’t work your regular job after the accident where you were hurt. You may be able to get workers’ comp benefits to help offset the reduced paycheck.
Read more in our blog answering the question, Does Workers’ Comp Come Out Of My Paycheck?
#3: What Can I Expect At My Workers’ Compensation Doctor Appointment
The second step in the workers’ compensation process is to tell your doctor you’ve been injured at work. As part of this process, you’ll have a physical exam and tell the doctor what has been injured.
Your employer will either give you a list of physicians to choose from after you have told them of your injury or you can choose your own doctor if your job does not give you doctors to choose from.
When you schedule the doctor’s appointment make sure you let them know the visit is for a workers’ comp evaluation as there may be additional paperwork or process required. Make sure you have your workers’ comp claim number with you as that may be requested upon check-in. If you don’t have a claim number yet, don’t worry: that is part of the process and the claim can still pay for your medical care.
The doctor will evaluate your injury or illness and set a course of treatment that is appropriate for the injury or illness. The treatment plan may also involve sending you to another medical provider, such as a surgeon or a physical therapist, who can better treat your issue.
The doctor may give you light-duty restrictions, which limit your ability to do your regular work. If you get light-duty restrictions, you should notify your employer. If they do not have a position for you while you are restricted, you will need to attempt to find other employment for the amount of time that you are restricted.
The doctor should give you some idea of what the course of your treatment will look like, such as the amount of time you maybe on a medicine or must rest a body part. If they don’t tell you, ask!
You may have follow-up appointments with medical providers. Make sure you go to all of your appointments, including ones such as physical therapy sessions. Keep all documents in a safe place that the physicians provide to you.
Read more in our blog answering the question, what to expect at your workers’ comp doctors appointment?
#4: How Do I Tell My Boss I’ve Been Injured At Work?
If you’ve been hurt at work in Virginia, the first step to take is to report your injury to your supervisor and tell them exactly what happened. You can tell your boss in person, if you are in the same location, or over the phone if you’re in a different location. If your supervisor or boss is not available, tell the next highest person who is available, such as your boss’ boss. You must tell someone above you; just having a coworker know is not enough.
You’ll want to tell them the order of events and the names of anyone who saw the injury occur. Don’t speculate about what might have been done to prevent the injury, or who might be at fault. Don’t try to hide anything. Just provide an account of exactly what happened.
You should tell your boss as soon as possible after your injury occurs. In Virginia, you have up to thirty (30) days to report the injury to your employer after it happens, but reporting it immediately or as soon as possible lets you start the worker’s comp process sooner and receive medical treatment faster.
Read more in our blog answering the question, how to tell your boss you’ve been injured at work.
#5: Will I Be Fired For Claiming Workers’ Compensation?
If you’re hurt at work, you should be filing a workers’ compensation claim so you can get the money you are due. Sometimes, however, people don’t want to file because they think they will be fired.
Thankfully, firing you for claiming workers’ compensation is illegal in Virginia – law § 65.2-308. Discharge of employee for exercising rights prohibited; civil action; relief. Meaning, employers can’t fire employees for filing for workers’ compensation, and if they do, the employee can take them to court.
The first part of the law says that your job can’t fire you for filing for workers’ comp, for being about to file for workers’ comp, for testifying in a workers’ comp hearing, or for being about to testify in a workers’ comp hearing. The second part of the law says that if you lie and file a false workers’ comp claim, they are allowed to fire you.
If you are injured on the job workers’ compensation is there to help cover injury-related medical expenses and provide you with a percentage of your salary while you’re recovering, or permanently if you are permanently injured. Don’t delay the workers’ compensation out of fear. If you are injured on the job, take steps to claim your workers’ compensation.
Read more in our blog answering the question, will I be fired for claiming workers’ comp?