For whatever reason, many injured workers harbor the mistaken belief that, once they begin receiving workers’ compensation disability benefits, they will receive them forever. This is not the case. There are several ways disability benefits may terminate. First, there is a 5-year cap on temporary partial disability benefits–the type of benefits that injured employees may receive if they have a light duty work capacity or if they are working a job that pays less than what they earned at the job in which they were injured. No such cap exists on temporary total disability benefits–the type of benefits injured employees receive if their injury renders them completely unable to work any job for which they are suited. Temporary total benefits may be suspended if a carrier schedules an employee for a medical examination and the employee fails to attend it. Such benefits may also be terminated through an RSA 281-A:48 petition filed by the carrier with the Department of Labor. When a carrier files such a petition, the Department of Labor holds a hearing attended by the employee and a carrier representative, usually an attorney. The carrier bears the burden to prove at the hearing that the employee has work capacity and that benefits should be discontinued. Benefits stop immediately if the Department finds that the carrier has met this burden.
Due to the risk of benefits being terminated, it makes sense under appropriate circumstances for employees to explore lump sum settling their claims. Disability benefits stop when the Department approves a lump sum settlement, but the employee can walk away with a sum of money to help to compensate for their injury and allow them to move on with life.
We can assist in negotiating a lump sum settlement and assessing your workers’ compensation rights. Benjamin King at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. is experienced in representing employees in workers’ compensation matters. Call us at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online Contact form.