If I’m Released for Light Duty, Do I Still Receive Benefits?
What happens when a doctor clears you in a Kansas workers’ compensation claim
on July 8, 2019
Updated on February 8, 2021
In Kansas, tens of thousands of people are hurt on the job every year. Workers’ compensation coverage provides medical and wage replacement benefits to injured workers. If you were hurt while on the job, you have the right to take the time you need to recover from your injuries before returning to work.
At some point, your treating doctor may determine that you are capable of getting back on the job, but that you are not quite ready to do so in your previous capacity. You may only be able to start working on a part-time basis, or you may need a less physically demanding position. This is often referred to as being cleared for ‘light duty work’. If you were recently cleared for light duty work, you may be wondering: What will happen to my workers’ compensation benefits?
Kansas Workers’ Compensation: What is Light Duty Work?
Light duty work is essentially a job assignment that an employee can do even though they have not yet made a complete recovery from their injuries. What constitutes ‘light duty’ work can vary dramatically. In some cases, it may simply mean that a worker is easing back into their previous position by returning to work on a part-time basis. In other cases, it may involve taking on wholly different job duties, perhaps working behind a desk in an office instead of working in a strenuous position on a construction site.
Understanding the Impact on Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
How will being released for light duty work affect your workers’ compensation benefits? It depends entirely on the nature of your specific situation. The Kansas Department of Labor notes that workers’ compensation benefits are generally paid at two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage. If you return in a light duty position making the full amount that you made before the injury, then your wage-loss benefits will be cut off. However, if a gap remains in your income—either because you are now working fewer hours or you took a lower paying light duty position—you should still receive partial wage-loss benefits to account for the remaining difference.
What to Do If You are Wrongly Cleared for Light Duty in Kansas?
Injured employees should not be rushed or forced into position that they are not yet capable of safely performing. Unfortunately, in some cases, doctors approve workers for light duty work that is, in reality, too difficult for them to perform. In this scenario, injured workers have important legal rights. You can challenge the validity of a light duty assignment. If you believe that you were incorrectly released for light duty work, you need to take action to protect your rights. You should consult with a Kansas workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
If you'd like to know more about this area, read our workers' compensation law overview.