No one wants to receive only two-thirds of their paycheck forever. But how do you decide when it is time to return to work after an injury? If you are worried about making your injury worse by going back to work too soon, you are not alone. Workers’ compensation laws in Illinois offer options for injured workers to try going back to work without losing their benefits if the return doesn’t go smoothly.
Returning to work on a trial basis can happen in a few different ways.
Your doctor can release you back to work on a trial basis
If you think you might be ready to return to work, you can ask your doctor to write a release to your employer for a trial period, typically a month. The release should clearly state that you are being released for a trial period only, with a plan to reassess with your doctor whether you can return to work beyond the trial period.
If all goes well, you can discuss with your doctor whether you can then move on to a full duty release. However, in case it doesn’t go well, it is important that doctor communicates to your employer that this is a trial only and your workers’ compensation claim remains open.
You can return to “light duty”
If one aspect of your job aggravates your injury, you may be able to return to work and perform only your other duties. Many employers call employees back to work part-time or on “light duty” but reduce the pay rate the employee receives. If you return to light duty and earn less than you did when you were working at full capacity, you can still collect temporary partial disability benefits.
Keep in mind that the insurance company will stop paying out benefits if you stop medical treatment because they will assume your injury has fully healed. Be sure to consult with your doctor and a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney before returning to work in any capacity following an injury.