Types of Benefits
If you have sustained an injury at work, you could be entitled to various benefits under the MA Workers Comp Law, located at Chapter 152 of the Mass General Laws.
This statute was originally enacted in the early 1900s, and was designed to circumvent the need to file actions in civil court, and to facilitate quick payments of benefits for injured workers.
The MA Workers Compensation system is administered at the Department of Industrial Accidents. Their main office is located in Boston, with branches in Lawrence, Worcester, Fall River, and Springfield.
So, what types of benefits are available under the MA Workers' Comp Law?
The two main benefits are weekly disability benefits, and work-related medical benefits.Weekly Disability Payments
If your injury renders you unable to work, you could receive weekly checks to compensate you while you're out of work.
Section 34 benefits - known as temporary total disability payments.
If your injury renders you totally disabled from all employment, on a temporary basis, you could be entitled to benefits under this section.
The rate of pay under Section 34 is equal to 60% of your pre-injury, gross wages. This benefit is available for up to 3 years.
So, if you were making $1,000 per week before you got hurt, your Section 34 rate would be $600 per week.
It is important to note, that these payments are tax-free.
Section 35 benefits - known as temporary partial disability payments
If your injury renders you unable to work your former job, but you are able to perform work of a different nature, you could be entitled to benefits under Section 35, also known as partial disability.
The rate under this section depends on a number of factors. However, the most you can receive under Section 35, known as max-partial, is 75% of your rate under Section 34.
So, in the example above, if you were collecting $600 per week while you were totally disabled, but then your doctor said you could perform light work, the most you could get under partial disability would be 75% of $600, or $450.
The other way of determining your Section 35 rate would be if you were assigned, by a Judge, for example, an earning capacity. Basically, an earning capacity is an amount which you should be able to earn on the open labor market.
For example, if a Judge were to assign you an earning capacity of $500, your rate would be computed as follows:
(Pre-Injury Average Weekly wage - Earning Capacity) x 60%
To illustrate: ($1,000 - $500) x 60% = $300.
In these situations, your comp rate under Section 35 would be $300, and you would be able to go out and earn $500 on top of that.
Section 35 benefits are available for up to 5 years.
Section 34A - permanent and total disability payments
If you've sustained an injury that renders you totally disabled on a permanent, or for an indefinite period of time, you could be entitled to Section 34A, permanent and total disability payments.
These payments are at the rate of 2/3rds of you pre-injury average weekly wage. In our above example, you would receive ($1,000 x 66%), or $666.66.
Section 34A can last indefinitely. It is conceivable for an injured employee to collect this benefit for the rest of his/her life, once approved.
Generally, an injured worker would collect most of the 3 years of Section 34 before being awarded Section 34A.
In addition to weekly medical benefits, the MA Workers' Compensation Act also provides for the payment of reasonable and related medical treatment.
In theory, any treatment, so long as it is reasonable, necessary, and related to the work injury is covered under the Act.
Very often, medical treatment under the workers comp act is the subject of litigation. This is because the various insurance companies try to argue that the need for the proposed medical treatment is not related to the work injury, but rather related to pre-existing, non-work related conditions.
In fact, M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 1(7A) addresses this issue, stating that the resulting disability and need for treatment is compensable under the Comp Act, so long as the work injury is "a major, but not necessarily predominant cause" of said disability or need for treatment.Other Benefits
In addition to the weekly disability payments and medical benefits, the Workers Comp Act also provides benefits for things such as:
- Loss of Function
- Vocational Retraining
Having an experienced workers comp lawyer is vital to ensure that you receive the best representation possible following an injury at work. At Troupe Law Office, we have close to 50 years of experience in representing injured workers and their families. We are experienced workers comp lawyers, located on the North Shore of Boston, in Peabody. We serve all of Massachusetts, including towns like Salem, Beverly, Lynn, Lynnfield, Middleton, Boxford, Topsfield, Andover, North Andover, Reading, Wakefield, Woburn and Lawrence.