Someone hurt on the job could face a variety of challenges. They may not be able to return to work for some time, especially if they have pursued a blue-collar profession. Injuries might prevent someone from performing key job functions and may require rest if someone hopes to fully recover.
They may also require extensive and costly medical care for the health challenges they developed because of their employment. Both those with traumatic injuries and those with cumulative injuries, such as those caused by repetitive job functions, may need to apply for Alaska workers’ compensation benefits.
Most employees working on a direct-hire basis in Alaska should have the protection of workers’ compensation coverage. They can seek disability benefits to replace their lost wages and medical benefits to help cover treatment expenses. How long can a worker continue receiving medical benefits?
Until they fully recover
The best outcome for a workers’ compensation claim is when treatment is successful. A worker may fully recover from their injury or occupational illness and return to work. Medical benefits end when someone no longer requires treatment.
When someone stops improving
Not all on-the-job injuries result in a full recovery. Catastrophic injuries and repetitive stress conditions may never fully resolve even with medical intervention. The doctor overseeing a worker’s compensation case may eventually determine that someone has achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI) for their condition. In other words, additional treatment is unlikely to have much impact on their condition. Treatment benefits typically end at that point. Thankfully, workers can still qualify for medical coverage if they require ongoing care to manage their symptoms.
After a worker becomes medically non-compliant
Occasionally, workers make decisions that worsen their medical challenges. The decision to refuse treatments or the refusal to follow a treatment plan could lead to claims that a worker is responsible for their failure to improve. They could potentially lose their benefits at that point, leaving them ineligible for ongoing medical coverage.
Sometimes, determinations about someone’s eligibility for medical benefits are inaccurate. Workers may need to appeal and fight to get the benefits they deserve. Learning the basic rules that apply to workers’ compensation claims, and seeking legal guidance when necessary, may benefit those coping with a job-acquired medical condition in Alaska.