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What if work injury symptoms persist after a return to work?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

When an employee gets hurt on the job in Iowa, they often qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Even part-time workers can receive support for medical treatment costs and disability benefits for lost wages if they work consistently for the company. Most Iowa workers, with the exception of independent contractors and a few others in unusual circumstances, have workers’ compensation coverage available to them.

Ideally, medical treatment and workplace accommodations can help someone get back to work as soon as possible after their injury or diagnosis with a job-related condition. However, not every work-acquired medical condition ends in a full recovery. Occasionally, people have lingering symptoms. For example, they may continue to have pain that they need to manage after long shifts.

Getting back to work may involve accommodations

Employers with workers in need of benefits due to job-acquired injuries usually need to accommodate those workers. The physician overseeing the worker’s care may recommend certain types of treatment. They may also impose limitations on someone’s work functions. Doctors can even request accommodations ranging from assistive technology and regular breaks while working to a change in job functions. Typically, if a worker has persistent symptoms, their employer will need to accommodate them if the support they require is reasonable.

The worker may receive ongoing medical care

Medical benefits obtained through Iowa workers’ compensation often end when someone achieves maximum medical improvement or returns to work. However, any persistent symptoms may make a worker eligible for ongoing benefits. People can receive medical coverage for physical therapy or pain management even after they return to work or cease undergoing active treatment for their condition.

If a combination of ongoing medical benefits and accommodations cannot get someone’s symptoms under control, then they may need to consider changing professions and possibly pursuing permanent disability benefits. When someone’s health challenges create lasting functional limitations, they may qualify for ongoing benefits until they reach retirement age. Medical care benefits may last even after that point in some cases.

Recognizing that a return to work does not automatically end all workers’ compensation benefits may help those worried about supporting themselves and their families after a recent injury on the job.


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