Why are my workers’ compensation checks late?
One of the most common questions we get from current clients is:
Where are my checks?
This applies to both weekly temporary total disability checks, permanent partial disability checks, temporary partial disability checks, and settlement checks. If a check is late, then there may be a penalty owed. Each check has a different due date and potentially different penalties; therefore, we will look at each one individually.
Temporary total disability (TTD) checks
An injured worker is entitled to temporary total indemnity benefits when the authorized treating physician has taken them out of work for more than 7 consecutive days or they have been placed on work restrictions by the authorized treating physician that the employer cannot accommodate. This means that there has not been a job offered to them by the employer that complies with the restrictions.
There is a 21-day waiting period before benefits are due. The maximum amount an individual can currently receive in temporary total disability benefits is $675 per week.
If a check is late, there is a penalty to be attached to the check in the amount of 15% of the temporary total disability benefit (pursuant to O.C.G.A. 34-9-221). A check is considered late when it has been mailed outside of the week for which benefits are due if the check is mailed from the state of Georgia. If the check is mailed from outside the state of Georgia, then check must be mailed 3 days prior to the due date.
The dates for the check are typically listed either on the check or on the pay stub. It is important to provide this information to your attorney so they can work with you to determine if the check is late.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) checks
If an individual is injured at work and placed on restrictions which the employer can accommodate, they may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. If you were injured on the job and are performing light duty work within your doctor-prescribed restrictions but earning less than before your injury, then you’re entitled to TPD benefits.
The amount you’re owed may fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on your income while continuing to work. The maximum you can receive in temporary partial disability benefits is $450 per week.
It is our position that like indemnity benefits, temporary partial disability benefits are due 21 days after the pay period in which the injured worker earned less money than they did when they were not injured. If this check is late, the injured worker is owed a penalty of 15% of the amount owed. The same rules apply in terms of mailing out the check.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) checks
Permanent partial disability benefits are due to the injured worker when they reach maximum medical improvement as determined by the authorized treating physician. The authorized treating physician will assign a percentage rating to the injured body part which is then calculated into a dollar figure (pursuant to O.C.G.A. 34-9-263). This is determined by multiplying the percentage rating, by the body part, by the workers’ compensation rate.
A permanent disability rating is not due to the injured worker while they are receiving temporary total (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. If they are not receiving these benefits, the employer has 21 days to make a PPD payment or it owes a 15% penalty. The same rules as mentioned earlier apply to the mailing of the check.
Workers’ compensation settlement check
When the parties in a workers’ compensation claim reach a settlement, the documents are submitted to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for approval. The State Board reviews them and sends out approval if they meet the requirements. This approval process typically takes 1 week. Notice is sent out to the attorneys on the case and the injured worker that the State Board has approved the settlement.
At this point, the clock begins ticking.
The insurance company and the employer have 20 days to make payment of the settlement.
The 20 days are not business days, but calendar days. If the employer fails to make payment within the 20 calendar days, they owe a 20 percent penalty. Depending on the size of the settlement, this penalty can be quite large.
Why might a workers’ comp check be delayed?
If you’ve expecting a check through the post office, there are many ways that it can get delayed, including:
- An outdated address
- Clerical errors at the post office
- Human errors by the mailman
- Route or general delivery issues
- The mail itself is delayed because of bad weather, holidays and so on
Checks can also take a long time to reach you if the insurance company is dragging its feet. Legally speaking, they’re allowed a certain number of days (mentioned above) to mail your check, so they might not do it right away.
If your check is taking longer than expected, you should talk to a workers’ compensation attorney who can help streamline the process and ensure that all procedures are being followed.
How can I track my workers’ comp checks?
If you suspect that your check has been delayed, your first step should be to reach out to your claims adjuster. You can consult your lawyer if you don’t know who your claims adjuster is. They’re the person responsible for processing your claim and getting your compensation to you, so if something’s gone wrong, they’ll likely be the one who can clarify what happened.
If your claims adjuster says that your check has already been mailed, it’s time to call the post office. They might have lost it or misplaced it. It might have been returned to the sender for some reason, or they might have delivered it to the wrong house.
If you’re still not having any luck tracking down your workers’ comp check after that, it might be time to contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Insurance companies are obligated to provide you with your benefits in a timely manner each month, and they may incur penalties if your payments are repeatedly delayed. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you track down any missing checks and devise a plan to rectify the situation going forward if needed.
How can our Georgia workers’ comp attorneys help?
As you can see, timing is very important when it comes to workers’ compensation. Despite all of these requirements, often people still find that their workers’ compensation checks or indemnity payments are delayed.
In addition, we have noticed a significant slowdown in the services of the mail recently. This isn’t merely anecdotal based on our experiences; rather, the New York Times recently confirmed our suspicions.
It is important to understand that the check is not considered late if it was mailed out on time but delayed by slow mail service. We understand this can be frustrating, so we highly recommended you contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney near you to determine if you can have the funds transferred via direct deposit.