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Who decides when an injured worker is ready to return to work?

Whether you work in a factory, on a ranch or out in the oil fields, workers’ compensation benefits can protect you if you get hurt on the job in Montana.

Those with job-acquired medical conditions can take a leave of absence while receiving disability benefits and use workers’ compensation insurance to pay for their medical treatment. Benefits include full medical coverage and a replacement of a portion of the wages someone can’t earn during their recovery.

If an injury is serious enough, workers may need to take weeks off to recover. Who determines when an injured worker is ready to get back to work in a Montana workers’ compensation claim? 

Medical decisions require medical professionals

It is common for workers to want to get back on the job as soon as possible and for employers to want to minimize how much disability someone collects. While everyone may be enthusiastic about keeping someone working if possible, it is the doctor overseeing the worker’s treatment who ultimately decides when they are ready to go back to work.

When a worker disagrees with the doctor’s prognosis, they may be able to request a second opinion. Sometimes, employers can help with the transition as well. A worker can request certain medical accommodations so that they can get back to their job. A doctor may also provide instructions regarding limitations for a worker’s performance or accommodations that will help them return to duty.

Montana does have support programs for workers transitioning back to work. There can be benefits that help workers maintain their job skills during recovery or even learn new ones so that they can return to a position with comparable compensation.

Going back too soon could hurt your recovery

Having a strong work ethic is admirable, but ignoring your physical well-being out of a sense of obligation is not. Following medical recommendations, completing treatment as necessary and restricting certain tasks as you transition back to work will be important for your long-term prognosis.

If you push yourself too far or ignore your symptoms when they flare back up, you could wind up doing permanent damage to your body and your work ability. Knowing the benefits available and having support when you apply for workers’ compensation can help you keep your focus on recovery, not the claim process.