If you have been injured on the job and are unable to work, you may be entitled to temporary benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
In this article, we will cover the basics of temporary benefits in SC, including:
- What temporary benefits mean under workers’ compensation,
- How you get temporary benefits,
- How long your temporary benefits will last, and
- What happens after your temporary benefits end.
What are Temporary Benefits?
If your on-the-job injury prevents you from returning to work, you are entitled to receive temporary benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
What do we mean by “temporary benefits?”
In addition to your medical expenses – doctors’ bills, hospital bills, medications, medical equipment, etc., you are entitled to receive wage replacement benefits that pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage until 1) you can return to work or 2) your doctors determine that your disability is permanent.
Of course, your average weekly wage is capped at the amount of the average weekly wage for all workers in the State of SC for the preceding year – in 2022, for example, the maximum temporary benefit for wages is $963.37 per week.
How do You Get Temporary Workers’ Compensation Benefits in SC?
You should begin receiving temporary benefits once you have been out of work for at least eight days. If your employer denies your benefits, however, you may need to file your workers’ compensation claim and request a formal hearing with the workers’ compensation commission.
SC Code § 42-9-260 authorizes your employer to begin making payments after eight days and continue paying temporary benefits for the first 150 days after the injury without waiving any defenses that they might have:
When an employee has been out of work due to a reported work-related injury or occupational disease for eight days, an employer may start temporary disability payments immediately and may continue these payments for up to one hundred fifty days from the date the injury or disease is reported without waiver of any grounds for good faith denial. Upon making the first payment, the employer immediately shall notify the commission, in accordance with a form prescribed by the commission, that payment of compensation has begun.
Your employer must notify the commission when payments begin and, if your benefits are terminated, when payments end.
How Long Do Temporary Benefits Last?
You should continue to receive temporary benefits, or TTD benefits, until 1) you have recovered from your injuries and are cleared by your doctor to return to work or 2) you have reached maximum medical improvement.
Once your doctor has determined that you have reached maximum medical improvement, you will be assigned an impairment rating and a disability rating that will determine the amount of permanent disability benefits you will receive.
In many cases, your permanent benefits can be negotiated in a lump-sum settlement based on the body part affected, the percentage of disability assigned by the doctors, and the length of time that you would have received benefits if they were paid over time.
The 150 Day Rule
SC Code § 42-9-260 says that, within 150 days after the accident, your employer can terminate your temporary benefits at any time if:
(1) the employee has returned to work; however, if the employee does not remain at work for a minimum of fifteen days, temporary disability payments must be resumed immediately; or
(2) the employee agrees that he is able to return to work and executes the proper commission form indicating that he is able to return to work; or
(3) a good faith investigation by the employer reveals grounds for denial of the claim; or
(4) the employee has been released by the treating physician to work without restriction and the employer offers comparable employment; or
(5) the employee has been released by the treating physician to limited duty work and the employer provides limited duty work consistent with the terms upon which the employee has been released; or
(6) the employee refuses medical treatment, as provided in Section 42-15-60, or refuses an examination or evaluation, as provided in Section 42-15-80, and the termination or suspension of benefits continues until the refusal ceases or the commission determines the refusal is justified pursuant to either Section 42-15-60 or 42-15-80.
If your employer wrongly terminates or reduces your temporary benefits, you can request a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to address the termination, and the hearing must be held within 60 days of the hearing request.
After 150 days, your employer must get approval from the Workers’ Compensation Commission before terminating your temporary benefits unless:
- You expressly waive your right to a hearing in writing,
- You return to work, or
- You agree that you can return to work (and complete the Commission’s form indicating you can return to work).
What Happens After Your Temporary Benefits End?
Once your temporary workers’ compensation benefits end, you may:
- Receive no additional benefits because you returned to work or were able to return to work,
- Receive partial permanent benefits based on a partial disability, or
- Receive full permanent benefits based on a total disability.
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.