Thursday, April 2, 2009

Layoff of Employees with Minnesota Workers Compensations Injuries

In the first two months of this year, Minnesota lost 24,000 jobs across a multitude of areas including professional, manufacturing and government. It is important to remember that a lay off does NOT relieve an employer’s obligation to continue providing ongoing workers compensation benefits to an injured worker. What many Minnesotans don’t realize is that aside from unemployment benefits, they may be entitled to substantial workers compensation benefits for ongoing workers compensation injuries. These benefits could include wage loss benefits AND retraining. Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation law permits laid-off workers to receive wage loss benefits, if a work injury affects their ability to find employment after being laid off. This is often not a very difficult burden to establish given this down economy. Unfortunately, injured workers are sometimes the first employees laid off by an employer despite claims otherwise.


Who is qualified for rehabilitation benefits?


A "qualified employee" entitled to receive rehabilitation services. Minnesota Rule 5220.0100(22) defines "qualified employee" as: An employee who, because of the effects of a work-related injury or disease, whether or not combined with the effects of a prior injury or disability:

A. Is permanently precluded or is likely to be permanently precluded from engaging in the employee's usual and customary occupation or from engaging in the job the individual held at the time of injury;

B. Cannot reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment with the date-of-injury employer; and

C. Can reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment through the provision of rehabilitation services considering the treating physician's opinion of the employee's work ability.


I’ve been laid off, now what do I do?


First, file for unemployment IMMEDIATELY. If you are not receiving workers compensation benefits at the time of layoff or are unsure about your eligibility, I encourage you to apply for unemployment. If you are later found eligible for unemployment, your receipt of workers’ compensation benefits will offset your unemployment benefit. Unlike unemployment, however, your workers compensation wage loss benefits are generally TAX FREE. You can apply online or by telephone by contacting the State of Minnesota through their web site www.uimn.org/ui/


Next contact our office and we will assist you in obtaining a copy of your employment and workers compensation files. With nearly two decades of experience handling cases involving injured worker, Thomas Atkinson and MN Disability can help explain whether your old or current injuries entitle you to rehabilitation benefits or a many other Minnesota Workers Compensation benefits. If you are found to be “qualified” you may be entitled to the assistance of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant who will act on YOUR behalf to help you find a new job or seek retraining opportunities. Injured workers entitled to rehabilitation benefits are often entitled to full-time wage loss benefits in the form of temporary total disability as well. If you have already found a new part-time or full time job you may still be entitled to rehabilitation assistance and other wage replacement benefits such as temporary partial disability benefits.


Remember that a lay off does NOT relieve an employer's obligation to continue providing ongoing workers' compensation benefits to an injured worker. If you suffer from the effects of a current or old workers compensation injury, and you have been laid off, call attorney Tom Atkinson at MN Disability TODAY for a free consultation. With nearly two decades of experience practicing in ONLY workers compensation, we know how to navigate the work comp maze. We have evening and weekend appointments open throughout Minnesota. tom@mndisability.com or 651-324-9514.