Healing Period Benefits If You are Laid Off or Terminated

Under Iowa work comp law you are entitled to be paid healing period benefits or given appropriate light duty work until you have reached maximum medical improvement. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement the type of payment you are entitled to receive shifts from healing period benefits to permanent partial disability payments.

In many cases injured workers are given light duty work while they are going through their healing process, rather than being paid healing period benefits. This section of our website is going to talk about two situations that are unfortunately fairly common. The first situation is when a worker is laid off before they reach maximum medical improvement. The second situation is when a worker is terminated before they reach maximum medical improvement.

Healing Period Benefits During a Lay Off

The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner has ruled that where an injured worker has not reached maximum medical improvement and he is laid off, that worker should be paid healing period benefits during the layoff. The injured worker’s entitlement to healing period benefits during the layoff applies whether the injured worker had actually been completely off work and receiving healing period benefits, or whether the worker was performing light duty work, but had not yet reached maximum medical improvement.

A related situation is when the injured worker’s place of employment is permanently shut down or closed. In this situation an injured worker is also entitled to receive healing period benefits until they reach maximum medical improvement.

In both the situation of a layoff and a plant closing the injured worker is entitled to receive healing period benefits until they reach maximum medical improvement. Once the worker has reached maximum medical improvement then the employer no longer has to pay healing period benefits, but instead is required to pay permanent partial disability benefits.

Healing Period Benefits After a Worker is Terminated From Their Job

In some cases an injured worker who is performing light duty work ends up being terminated before they reach maximum medical improvement.

Until 2002 Iowa law allowed the employer and work comp insurance company to stop paying a worker healing period benefits if that worker was terminated for misconduct. In 2002 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner changed the law and ruled that in most situations a worker that is terminated is entitled to receive healing period benefits after their termination until they reach maximum medical improvement.

The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s current rule is that an injured worker is barred from receiving healing period benefits after being terminated where the employee was guilty of intentional misconduct such as threatening co-workers or supervisors, disrupting or sabotaging the employer’s business operations or being insubordinate.

Many injured workers are terminated for failing to comply with their employer’s attendance rules. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner has suggested a worker’s intentional decision to not accept light duty work can lead to the employee being terminated and not being eligible to receive healing period benefits. However, the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner has also suggested that if a worker is terminated after missing work based on a good faith misunderstanding then the worker is entitled to receive healing period benefits.

Some injured employees are not comfortable with light duty work either because they are not familiar with the task they are required to do, or they find the light duty work environment to be unpleasant or even hostile. Nonetheless, we always advise our clients to show up for all light duty work and avoid the risk of a termination leading to the loss of healing period benefits.

Conclusion

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