3 Tests That May Precede Workers' Comp Modification

Worker's compensation benefits don't last forever; in fact, in some cases, your benefits may be terminated "prematurely." In most cases, workers undergo some sort of evaluation before their benefits are terminated. Here are some of the specific evaluations that should warn you of an impending termination.

The Impairment Rating Evaluation

The impairment rating evaluation (IRE) is a medical examination meant to gauge, as the name suggests, the degree of your impairment. The IRE can also reveal whether your injury is a permanent one or a temporary one. The IRE is usually performed on those who have been receiving their benefits for some time, and it may be performed more than once per year.

The IRE is typically ordered by the workers' compensation insurer handling your claim. Your rating determines how much benefits you are entitled to. For example, if you are in California, you will be entitled to 30 weeks' worth of wages if you receive a rating of 10% permanent disability. This means you have a vested interest in the outcome of the IRE and you must ensure that the results are as accurate as they can get.

The Independent Medical Evaluation

The workers' compensation insurance carrier handling your claim may also order an independent medical evaluation (IME). The main aim of the IME is to:

  • Confirm or refute that you have suffered the injuries you are claiming
  • To gauge the extent of your recovery
  • To determine whether you can return to work or not

Your employer will use the IME report to decide whether it terminates your workers' compensation benefits. This is because you are only entitled to workers' compensation benefits as long as you are injured and cannot work; the benefits stop when you recover and regain your ability to work.

A Vocational Counselor Evaluation

Lastly, you may also be required to undergo a vocational evaluation if you have been receiving workers' compensation benefits. This evaluation is only concerned with your ability to work for pay. As such, it is not performed by a medical doctor like the other tests above. Rather, a vocational expert performs the evaluation and recommends whether you are ready to return to work, and if so, which duties you should be given.

For example, it's possible for a vocational evaluator to recommend that you return to work even if you aren't fully recovered. In such a case, the expert will identify the lighter duties to which you should be restricted as you heal.

Talk to a workers' compensation lawyer if you suspect that the worker compensation insurance agency has terminated your benefits without merit. The lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on the way forward to ensure your employee rights are respected.