Taking Care of Yourself: Workman's Comp
The fresh scent of spring is in the air and you feel exhausted. Dad and mom have you bouncing back and forth while you try to spend more time with your children, but you are not alone. Earlier today, while at work, you picked up a bit heavier box than you should and felt a pop. A sharp burning feeling starts in your back and runs down your left leg, then it eases up quite a bit. Life today is active, especially for women aged 45 – 56 who care for both their parents and children. These people are caught in the “sandwich generation” and these columns are focused on issues affecting you.
So what do you do now? Ironically, you give as much time to your parents as you do your kids and at first thought, you do not have time to be hurt. However, now is the time to protect yourself and in a number of ways. So what do you do?
First, get medical attention if necessary and be sure to place an incident (accident) report at work; even if the pain has lessened. Even though your employer is being amiable, you need to protect your rights as the work comp insured will probably take a tougher approach. Ask for confirmation that the report was filed with workman’s comp. If possible get this confirmation in writing. Know the work comp injury process is filled with “landmines” and it is prudent and most common to secure professional advice. It is suggested that you interview several attorneys about how they would handle your injury and what they will do for you. The compensation for an attorney is established by law and is based on a percentage of your settlement.
If an injury would cause a permanent disability where the injured person may also go onto Social Security Disability, a lump sum settlement may not be your best option. You should ask your attorney about going to arbitration and a regularly scheduled (monthly) payout settlement. If the settlement was paid in a lump sum, Social Security would have a dollar for dollar offset; therefore your overall dollars available for your disability would be less. Your attorney may recommend a Medicare Set Aside account. If future medical treatment is a result of this work comp injury and settlement, Medicare will not pay for these related services; therefore a Medicare Set Aside fund can be established to pay for these expenses.
Very importantly, be an advocate for yourself. Spend time to make yourself knowledgeable of the process, but know that every situation is a bit different. So what your friend did five years ago for his injury is different than the process you may follow; in fact the laws are even different now. Any settlement would require you to sign off on any worsening of the injury or re-aggravation.
Helping mom and dad and caring for your children simultaneously is not easy; and sometimes you need to put yourself first. This is one of those times. It is very helpful to discuss and plan for reasonable future events, and a sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis. If you would like a list of “questions to ask in different aspects of care” see our website and look under the “Patient Advocacy Division”.