One of the most common questions we hear from injured workers is “How long can I collect my total disability workers’ compensation benefits?” The simple answer is that the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act states under M.G.L. c. 152 § 34 that “The total number of weeks of compensation due to the employee under this section shall not exceed one hundred fifty-six.” This means that temporary total disability benefits are available to qualifying injured workers for 3 years (or 156 weeks).
How Long Can I Collect My Total Disability Workers' Compensation Benefits?
Now for the not so simple answer. While the temporary total disability benefits may be available for 3 years, to continue to collect them, the injured worker’s incapacity for work must be total. Thus, the injured worker must be totally unable to return to work as a result of his/her work-related accident and injury. The injured worker’s treating physician is typically the individual making this determination.
In many workers’ compensation claims the injured employee’s work capacity is at issue. Although the injured worker’s treating physician may opine the worker is totally disabled, the workers’ compensation insurer may require the employee to submit to an independent medical examination where the independent doctor may conclude the worker can return to work, perhaps with restrictions. In these situations, the workers’ compensation insurer may discontinue paying benefits if liability is not accepted or established, or they may file a complaint to discontinue benefits. At a conference or hearing, the judge at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents may order the discontinuance of benefits.
Thus, temporary total disability benefits from workers’ compensation in Massachusetts may be collected for 3 years or until the injured worker is found to have an earning capacity and is not totally disabled from all work.
Contact Our Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorneys Today
If you were hurt at work and have questions about your work accident or are running into a situation where your work capacity is in dispute, you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.