What is "wage loss compensation?" Does it still exist?

What if I can't go back to the job I held when I was injured?  Sometimes an injury prevents a return to SOME work, but not ALL work. Perhaps you can lift a stack of paper, but not furniture? But what if moving furniture paid you twice as much as your new sit down job?

R.C. sec. 4123.56 provides for the payment of wage loss compensation when "...[an employee] suffers a wage loss as a result of returning to employment other than the employee's former position of employment due to an injury or occupational disease..." This seems simple. You are injured. You cannot go back to your old job. You are eligible to receive compensation. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

Ohio recently published new rules to address the payment of wage loss compensation. Perhaps you are thinking these rules are designed to simplify and streamline the process of awarding wage loss compensation? Think again. Instead, this represents a coordinated effort on the part of BWC, the Industrial Commission of Ohio, and the employer community to eliminate compensation to disabled workers.

A review of these rules reveals nine and a half pages of reasons to deny your application for wage loss.  For instance, your request for wage loss will be denied if:

  • You fail to register with the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.  Has anyone EVER found a job through this agency?  Anyone?
  • You fail to document your job search efforts on the precise form provided by BWC
  • You fail to submit a medical report that specifies whether your restriction is "temporary" or "permanent"

Worse yet, your request for wage loss may be denied if you make too much money.  It can also be denied if you make too little. Sadly, the reasons for denial have little to do with whether an injured worker is disabled or not. It is about depriving injured workers benefits in the event of a wage loss.

Workers compensation was designed as a no fault system to simplify the process of awarding benefits to injured workers and their dependents. These rules ignore that idea. If you have suffered a work related injury that prevents you from returning to your former position, seek legal help immediately.