If you get injured at work in Georgia, you must go to a physician for your initial injury diagnosis, as well as ongoing treatments and checkups. A doctor will monitor your condition as you recover and give updates to your employer. Before you make a full recovery, your doctor may release you to restricted or limited work status. If so, your employer or the insurance company can file Form WC-104 to reduce the financial benefits that you receive through workers’ compensation.
Form WC-104: Return to Work With Restrictions or Limitations
In Georgia, Rule 104 in the Rules and Regulations of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation states that an employer or insurance company has the right to unilaterally reduce an employee’s income benefits from temporary total disability (TTD) to temporary partial disability (TPD) under certain circumstances. To do so, the employer or insurer must file Form WC-104 with the Board, along with a supporting medical document from the employee’s physician confirming that he or she can return to work with restrictions or limitations.
If the injury in question was not catastrophic and occurred on or after July 1, 1992, Form WC-104 must be filed (and served upon the employee) no later than 60 days from the date that the worker’s treating physician authorized the employee to return to work. After filing Form WC-104, the employer or insurer may convert the income benefits that the employee is receiving through workers’ comp from TTD to TPD by filing Form WC-2 with the Board of Workers’ Compensation and serving copies of this form on the employee (and the employee’s attorney, if applicable).
What Does WC-104 Mean for Your Workers’ Comp Benefits?
If you recover from a workplace injury or illness enough to have a doctor clear you to return to work at a limited or restricted capacity – such as at a lower-impact job or part-time instead of full-time – this could reduce the amount of financial benefits that you receive to cover your lost wages from workers’ compensation insurance. This will be the case if your employer or its insurance company files Forms WC-104 and WC-2 with the Board and the Board accepts these documents.
According to state law in Georgia, an employer/insurer must pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $675 per week for a temporary total disability that renders you unable to work. If your workers’ comp settlement is converted to temporary partial disability benefits after you’re cleared to work in a limited capacity, however, the amount that an insurer must pay decreases to the difference between what you used to make before your injury and what you make now, with a maximum of $450 per week.
The date that you will start receiving your reduced TPD benefits instead of TTD benefits will be determined by the date that you were released by your treating physician to work with restrictions. The modification will take effect only after you have been working with restricted duty status for 78 aggregate weeks or 52 consecutive weeks.
When Should You Contact a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Georgia?
If your workers’ compensation claim involves Form WC-104, a reduction of your financial benefits, wrongfully rejected benefits or other issues that you wish to contest, start by consulting with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options based on the specific facts of your case, such as the severity of your injury and whether or not you are able to return to work in a limited capacity.
If you believe that your doctor made a mistake in releasing you to work with restrictions or an employer/insurer should not have reduced your financial benefits to the temporary partial disability rate, your lawyer may be able to help you file an appeal. Your lawyer can gather the evidence needed to support your claim, such as medical records or a letter from your doctor. A lawyer will also know how to navigate Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws on your behalf. For more information about WC-104 in a workers’ comp claim, contact Hilley & Frieder.