What should you do if your doctor tells you that he/she is going to release you to return to work “light duty?”
Light duty or modified duty releases may occur if your medical condition has improved, or they may be issued if the insurance company is pressuring the doctor to return you to work. Either way, you need to be very careful about your next steps and you should immediately contact your lawyer about what to do.
First, understand that if your doctor verbally or in writing releases you to return to work light duty, you should not do anything until your employer contacts you with an actual job offer. Until that time, you are entitled to continue receiving your TTD benefits.
Your employer can offer you a job either with or without a WC-240 job description.
- A WC-240 job offer specifically describes a job that fits within the doctor’s descriptions of your limitations. For example, if you have been out of work due to a back injury, the form WC-240 may describe a job that does not require you to lift more than 10 lbs., climb ladders or bend at the waist. A form WC-240a (completed by your doctor) will describe lifting, sitting, standing, postural and other limitations.
- A job offer without a WC-240 is much more vague. Your employer may offer what it considers a “light duty” job but that job may or may not reflect what your doctor is thinking.
When you return to work light duty, you have 14 days to determine whether you have the capacity to perform this light duty job.
If you are not able to perform the requirements of the light duty job, you should notify your supervisor (and your doctor) and you would again be eligible for TTD benefits.
- If you return to work without the detailed limitations set out in a WC-240 it may be easier to argue that the light duty job was beyond your limitations.
If you contend that the light duty job is beyond your capacity, the insurance company may challenge you. They can file a request for a hearing in an effort to terminate your benefits.
As you can see there are a lot of moving parts here. You may or may not agree with your doctor’s assessment of your capacity to work. You may or may not feel that you have the capacity to perform the job that your employer has created for you. If you continue working the modified duty for 14 days, your TTD will be terminated and it may be much more difficult to get weekly wage benefits restarted later on.
Understanding your options when it comes to a light duty return to work can be very confusing and could damage the settlement value of your case. Sound advice from your lawyer can protect your interests. If you are not currently represented and want to discuss your specific case please call me.