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How do you get benefits for a disabling workplace injury?

We recently discussed a form of compensation available specifically for workers whose injuries leave them with permanently decreased ability in part of their body. After reviewing the types of workplace injuries and body parts that can qualify for a Schedule Loss of Use award, our Utica readers will likely want to know: what is the process for seeking an SLU? What all is involved, and how burdensome is it?

The first thing you'll need to do is have your doctor file an opinion with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board. The opinion should indicate the percentage of loss that you have suffered in the injured limb or body part and that no improvement beyond your current level is medically possible. If your doctor's opinion is in agreement with the insurer's doctor's opinion, you'll receive an SLU based on that percentage of loss.

If the two opinions differ on your loss of use percentage, the Board may ask you for additional documentation. You may receive a notice that a hearing before a judge has been scheduled for you. At the hearing, the judge will attempt to resolve the dispute over the percentage or schedule a trial if necessary. Ultimately, the judge will make a final decision, and you'll receive the award as indicated within 10 days.

An insurer dispute over an SLU award can be a challenging matter to overcome, in addition to the physical loss you're still coping with. We present this discussion as general information only, not specific legal advice, but note that a legal professional can provide valuable support for an injured worker particularly if the judge orders a trial over the percentage of loss. We'll follow up with a look at just how much you can expect to receive through an SLU award.

Source: New York State Workers' Compensation Board, "Understanding Your Schedule Loss of Use Award," accessed on Oct. 17, 2015

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