People generally know that workers compensation benefits cover medical expenses and a percentage of wages while the employee is off work. Some states have workers comp benefits that are quite liberal in their coverage and pay for some extras, including complementary and mental health therapies.
If you're going to receive workers comp payments while recovering from a work injury, find out more about the benefits you qualify for. You'll want to take advantage of all the options that can help you recover quickly.
Benefits to Look For
Physical therapy is a standard component of workers comp, although the policy may limit the number of sessions the insurer will pay for. Your policy also may cover a certain number of chiropractic and massage sessions, even though these treatments aren't part of conventional Western medicine. There may be a monetary cap on all these therapies as well.
The policy may require a referral from a medical or osteopathic doctor.
Your doctor may be able to override the restricted number of sessions by verifying that you would benefit from further complementary care appointments. Depending on your state laws, the doctor also may be allowed to ask the workers compensation board for a lift on the monetary cap. The insurer naturally doesn't want to pay for more treatments than it has to, but it also wants you to return to work as soon as possible.
Workers compensation insurance generally views certain therapies as more "fringe" than chiropractic and massage. It typically doesn't cover treatments such as acupuncture and herbal medicine. However, this varies by state. Florida, for instance, does allow for acupuncture coverage in workers comp if a doctor prescribes the therapy and makes a referral.
Workers comp typically pays for temporary nursing care, either at home or in a nursing facility. If you can safely recuperate at home, your doctor will advise whether a nursing assistant can provide the necessary level of care or whether you need attention from a licensed nurse.
Mental Health Counseling
Your benefits may include appointments with a psychologist or social worker for counseling. This will probably depend on whether the incident that caused your injury was psychologically traumatic. If you suffered a serious injury such as a limb amputation or you witnessed a fatality at work, for example, you may qualify for counseling under worker's compensation.
If workers comp doesn't cover counseling, check with your employer to learn whether your standard job benefits pay for the service. Many employers offer some free counseling sessions even for life circumstances not related to the job.
If you will now have a certain level of disability that prevents you from doing your job, you may still want to continue working rather than live on disability payments. Workers comp may cover education and training for a new occupation with an average wage equal to or higher than what you had been earning.
Some policies cover the expense of transportation to appointments with the doctor and other practitioners.
Find Out What Your Policy Covers
Talk with the person in your human resources department who handles workers comp claims. You also can learn about coverage at your state's official workers compensation website. The information can be very complex, so you might want to contact a workers comp lawyer for a free consultation. This attorney can answer some of your questions about what state law requires and does not allow for these benefits.
In addition, if you request an exception to the policy for a treatment not normally covered and your request is denied, a lawyer may be able to help. Go to websites of local workers comp attorneys to learn more.