by Karl Voigt
Karl just answered this Pennsylvania workers’ compensation question on Avvo.com:
“What does an Ability to Return to Work Mean for me? I was back to FT work light duty but MMI. Now laid off.”
We would generally need more facts from you in order to better answer your question. However, I see two issues in your question.
First, apparently you were back to work at modified duties, but were laid off. In these situations, your workers’ compensation wage loss benefits should indeed be reinstated. The rationale behind this rule is that, if your earnings loss recurs through essentially no fault of your own, you should be paid by the workers’ compensation insurance company. Any rule to the contrary would be patently unfair to injured workers, because an employer could hypothetically take somebody back to work at modified duties, then lay them off and not expect to have to pay workers’ compensation benefits. Hence this rule.
Second, you have since your layoff received a Notice of Ability to Return to Work. This is usually issued by the insurance company after an IME doctor – or even your own treating doctor – releases you to return to work at modified duties. The latter has seemingly already occurred because you were actually working light duty. It’s issuance is required before the workers’ compensation carrier attempts to do vocational development in your case. Namely, the insurer may now assign a vocational counselor to identify hypothetical job opportunities for you.
As far as what you have to do now that you have received the Notice, it may be time to talk to a lawyer, who may put you in several different directions knowing more facts about your case. She might advise you to begin to seek employment within your physical limitations. She could give you advice during the vocational counseling process. She might also discuss with you the possibility of a lump sum settlement. Good luck!