How long do workers’ compensation benefits last in SC?
Assuming you do not resolve your case with a lump-sum settlement, how long your workers’ compensation benefits will last depends on the type of injury you suffered, the severity of your injuries, and, more importantly, when your doctors say that you can return to work.
If you have a permanent and total disability, your benefits could last for as long as 500 weeks or even for the rest of your life. Otherwise, they will terminate at some point…
When and how do workers’ compensation benefits end in SC?
How Long do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last in SC?
If you are receiving permanent disability benefits, SC Code Section 42-9-30 provides a set number of weeks for how long workers’ compensation benefits – payment of 2/3 of your average weekly wages – will last based on the type of disability that was suffered:
(1) for the loss of a thumb – sixty-five weeks;
(2) for the loss of a first finger, commonly called the index finger – forty weeks;
(3) for the loss of a second finger – thirty-five weeks;
(4) for the loss of a third finger – twenty-five weeks;
(5) for the loss of a fourth finger, commonly called the little finger – twenty weeks;
(6) the loss of the first phalange of the thumb or any finger is considered to be equal to the loss of one half of such thumb or finger and the compensation must be for one half of the periods of time above specified;
(7) the loss of more than one phalange is considered the loss of the entire finger or thumb; provided, however, that in no case shall the amount received for more than one finger exceed the amount provided in this schedule for the loss of a hand;
(8) for the loss of a great toe – thirty-five weeks;
(9) for the loss of one of the toes other than a great toe – ten weeks;
(10) the loss of the first phalange of any toe is considered to be equal to the loss of one half of such toe and the compensation must be for one half the periods of time above specified;
(11) the loss of more than one phalange is considered as the loss of the entire toe;
(12) for the loss of a hand – eighty-five weeks;
(13) for the loss of an arm – two hundred twenty weeks;
(14) for the loss of a shoulder – three hundred weeks;
(15) for the loss of a foot – one hundred forty weeks;
(16) for the loss of a leg – one hundred ninety-five weeks;
(17) for the loss of a hip – two hundred eighty weeks;
(18) for the loss of an eye – one hundred forty weeks;
(19) for the complete loss of hearing in one ear – eighty weeks; and for the complete loss of hearing in both ears – one hundred sixty-five weeks;
(20) total loss of use of a member or loss of vision of an eye is considered as equivalent to the loss of the member or eye. The compensation for partial loss of or for partial loss of use of a member or for partial loss of vision of an eye is the proportion of the payments provided in this section for total loss as such partial loss bears to total loss;
(21) for the loss of use of the back in cases where the loss of use is forty-nine percent or less – three hundred weeks. In cases where there is fifty percent or more loss of use of the back – five hundred weeks;
(22) for the total or partial loss of, or loss of use of, a member, organ, or part of the body not covered in this section and not covered under Section 42-9-10 or 42-9-20 – five hundred weeks.
(23) serious permanent disfigurement of the face, head, neck, or other area normally exposed in employment – fifty weeks.
When are Temporary Workers’ Compensation Benefits Terminated in SC?
The most common ways for temporary workers’ compensation benefits to end (before you have reached maximum medical improvement and receive a disability rating) are 1) when your doctor releases you to return to work or 2) when your own actions (such as returning to work) end the benefits.
Do I Have to Accept “Light Duty” if it is Offered?
If your doctor says that you can perform “light duty,” and your employer offers you a “light duty” position, you must accept it and return to work – if you do not, your workers’ compensation benefits could end.
Worker’s Compensation Benefits Terminated Within the First 150 Days
SC Code § 42-9-260 lists six things that could trigger the termination of your temporary benefits within the first 150 days:
- Returning to work for at least 15 days,
- Informing your employer, on the appropriate form, that you can return to work,
- Your employer’s investigation finds reasons for the claim to be denied (fraud, for example),
- Your doctor releases you to return to work,
- Your doctor clears you for light-duty, you are offered a light-duty assignment (reduced benefits may continue in some cases); or you refuse a light-duty assignment (benefits may end completely), or
- You refuse medical treatment or evaluation.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Terminated After the First 150 Days
SC law provides only three “triggers” that will terminate your benefits if you have been receiving benefits for more than 150 days:
- Your doctor releases you to return to work without restrictions,
- Your doctor clears you for light-duty, you are offered a light-duty assignment (reduced benefits may continue in some cases), or you refuse a light-duty assignment (benefits may end completely), or
- You return to work for a different employer.
Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits End if I am Fired?
If you are fired for misconduct or poor performance, your workers’ compensation benefits will end.
On the other hand, if you are fired because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you can sue your former employer – call your SC workers’ compensation attorney at Axelrod and Associates immediately if you suspect you were fired in retaliation or to prevent you from collecting benefits.
Your Myrtle Beach worker’s compensation lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to file your claim, determine how long your workers’ compensation benefits may last, and represent you before the workers’ compensation commission for any hearings and appeals.