After a work injury, the goal of every worker and employer is a safe and expedient return to work. Many times, this goal is achievable. In 2015, there were more than 900,000 injury cases that resulted in missed work across the U.S. Fortunately, workers often returned after a brief time off, with the median days of missed work at eight days. Getting back to work can be a difficult and complicated process for some workers, however. Often, employees must complete rehabilitation to heal enough for work. In many cases, while an employee is cleared by a doctor to work again, they have restrictions on the type or amount of work they can do. Sometimes, the employee and employer can work together to find an appropriate way to make this happen. This is not possible in every case, however, and workers may find themselves suffering a loss of income because of the restriction placed on their return to work. For those employees, the state offers a living wage and living maintenance benefits to help address this gap in income.
Living Maintenance and Living Maintenance Wage Loss Compensation
Both living maintenance (LM) and living maintenance wage loss (LMWL) compensation seek to ensure that an injured employee does not have to suffer an undue financial hardship because of his injuries. Living maintenance provides payments while the worker is actively involved in an approved vocational rehabilitation program and is offered in place of temporary total disability compensation. Living maintenance wage loss provides for those who have completed rehabilitation and returned to work earning less than before the injury. To qualify for LMWL, the injured worker must:
- Experience a loss in earnings compared to his average earnings before the injury
- Not voluntarily limit his income
- Have documented work restrictions based on the condition in the injury claim
Vocational Rehabilitation and Living Maintenance Benefits
Enrollment in and completion of vocation rehabilitation is a key element for eligibility for both these types of benefits. Vocational rehabilitation helps those with disabilities or limitations obtain and maintain work. The process can help injured workers find effective ways to get back into the workforce through many interventions, including:
- Assistive technology and devices
- Career counseling and guidance
The bureau of workers’ compensation, the worker’s managed care plan, and the state vocational rehabilitation office can work together to help find the right program and coordinate benefits to enroll injured workers. Without these programs, however, it may not be possible to obtain either LM or LMWL benefits.
What to Expect From Living Maintenance Benefits in Ohio
As with most workers’ compensation benefits, eligibility and compensation are determined as appropriate for each case. The type of compensation, the amount of payments, and length of eligibility can vary depending on the specific factors of your injury and case. In general, a worker can expect:
- Living Maintenance – Payment is offered instead of temporary total disability and is limited up to six months. In some cases, the employee is paid by a third party for activities completed part of the vocational rehabilitation. That compensation must be signed over to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The current LM weekly payment minimum has been set by the state of Ohio at $451, though compensation can be greater depending on your case.
- Living Maintenance Wage Loss – Payment is offered on a similar schedule to regular wage loss benefits and is available as a percentage of the difference in income earned before and after the injury.
When a full and expedient return to work is not possible, the Ohio workers’ compensation system does have a few different options available to help injured workers avoid financial hardship. Every case is unique, however, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you and your family understand your rights and seek the most effective benefits. At Monast Law Office, attorney Jim Monast and his staff are dedicated to protecting injured Ohio workers and helping them obtain the maximum compensation. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation to get started receiving the benefits you deserve.