A common question that many people have when they are injured on the job in South Carolina is often, “how long can I be on worker’s compensation.” Like most things in today’s field of Worker’s Compensation law, the answer depends on several factors. Workers Compensation is a limited benefits system, it is not the equivalent to what many people think of when they say “disability”. An injured worker in South Carolina may only receive five hundred weeks of benefits, at the most. Five hundred weeks, or a little more than nine years is the absolute longest anyone can “be on workers comp”. This is many times not the outcome for most injured workers however.
If you are hurt on the job and an authorized treating physician (the doctor your company sent you to) writes you out of work due to your work injury, then you are entitled to begin receiving Temporary Total Disability checks. The amount of these checks is calculated by determining your average weekly wage and taking two thirds of that. This amount is called your compensation rate. Your compensation rate is a key component to your workers compensation case, because it determines the amount of compensation that you will ultimately be owed. Many times employers will calculate the compensation rate incorrectly and will cause you to miss out on funds that you are owed. This is one of the many reasons it is beneficial to hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer to evaluate your case.
Once your doctor writes you out of work, you are entitled to temporary total disability checks until the doctor sends you back to work, or until you have reached maximum medical improvement. So many times the amount of time you are allowed to be “on worker’s comp” depends on how long it may take you to heal.
Another important factor, is whether or not your job can accommodate any work restrictions you may have. For example an injured worker who can only lift fifteen pounds and whose job requires them to lift up to fifty pounds, should continue to receive workers compensation checks until and if their employer is able to provide work within those restrictions. If you return to work and you are making less than you were before, because of your injury, then you are entitled to temporary or permanent partial disability checks. This amount is determined by calculating the difference between what you were making before your work accident and what you make after returning to work and taking two thirds of that amount. If your loss of earning capacity is determined to be permanent then, you may receive permanent partial disability checks for a total of three hundred and forty weeks, or a little more than six and one half years. This amount can usually be awarded in a lump sum.