Q: In Iowa, who is eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
A: If you are working under a contract made in Iowa or your employment is principally located in Iowa, and you are injured in Iowa, you may be eligible for benefits due to a job-related injury. There are some classifications of employees who are exempt from the law, and as such, you should consult an attorney to determine whether you fall into a classification that makes you ineligible for benefits.
Q: Who selects the Medical Care for a Workers’ Compensation injury?
A: Generally, the employer will provide medical care reasonably suited to treat your employment injury, and has the right to choose the applicable medical care. If you are dissatisfied with the medical care offered, you should discuss the problem with your employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier. It is important to note that if the employer-retained physician provides an impairment rating for your injury which you believe is too low, you may have right to another examination by a doctor of your choice at your employer’s expense. You should consult an attorney to determine your impairment rating rights, what that rating means, and if you have the right to obtain a second opinion.
Q: What types of benefits does Iowa law provide?
A: There are many different types of benefits that you may receive under your Workers’ Compensation injury, and that type of benefit depends upon several factors, such as, severity of the injury and significance of your impairment rating. The different types of benefits include:
- Medical Benefits. Payment of your reasonable and necessary medical care incurred to treat your worker-related injury. These benefits may also include reasonably necessary transportation expenses and mileage and lost wages.
- Disability Benefits. The weekly amount of any disability benefit is determined by the employee’s average gross weekly earnings, the number of exemptions, and the employees’ marital status. There are several types of disability benefits:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD). When an employee’s injury/disability lasts more than 3 calendar days, the employee may be entitled to TTD benefits beginning on the 4th day and continuing until the employee has returned to work or is medically capable of returning to substantially similar employment, whichever occurs first. The 3-day waiting period becomes payable if the disability period exceeds 14 calendar days.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). TPD benefits may be payable if the employee returns to work at a lesser paying job, because of the injury.
- Healing Period (HP). During an employee’s period of injury recuperation, which produces a permanent impairment, the employee may be entitled to HP benefits beginning on the 1st day of disability following the date of injury and continuing until the occurrence of one of the following events: 1) employee returns to work; 2) it is medically indicated that significant improvement from the injury is not anticipated; or 3) the employee is medically capable of returning to employment substantially similar to the employment in which the employee was engaged at the time of the injury. There is no waiting period for HP benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). If an employee’s job-related injury results in permanent disability, the employee may be entitled to PPD benefits based upon the degree of permanency of the injury. The PPD benefits are payable in addition to the HP benefits and are to begin at the termination of the healing period. There are two types of PPD benefits:
- Scheduled Member Disabilities – Iowa’s workers’ compensation law provides list of scheduled body members (i.e., arm, leg, etc.) along with the value (in number of weeks) for each member. If the employee’s injury is to one of the listed/scheduled members, the employee may be entitled to PPD benefits.
- Unscheduled (Body As A Whole) Disabilities – When an injury results in a permanent disability to a part of the person that is not a scheduled member, it is compensated according to the percent that the disability reduced the person’s earning capacity.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD). When an employee’s job-related injury leaves an employee incapable of returning to gainful employment, the employee may be entitled to PTD benefits. The PTD benefits are payable as long as the employee remains permanently totally disabled.
- Second Injury Fund Benefits. If an employee has a permanent partial disability to one major body member (hand, arm, foot, leg, or eye) and sustains a permanent partial disability as a result of a job related injury to a second major body member, the employee may be entitled to benefits from the “Second Injury Fund.”
- Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits. The Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) assists eligible individuals with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment. An employee may be entitled to a payment of $100.00 per week (up to 13 weeks) if the employee is actively participating in a vocational rehabilitation program. An additional 13 weeks may be paid if approved by the workers’ compensation commissioner.
- Death Benefits. Death benefits are payable to the dependents of the employee, who died as a result of the work-related injuries. These benefits may first be payable to the surviving spouse for life or until remarriage. The benefits may also be paid to dependent children until they reach age 18, or age 25 if they are actually dependent. Others may qualify, if there is a showing of actual dependency. Burial expenses may also be paid.