Can They Stop My Money?
Anyone who has had a workers’ compensation case knows that the insurance company is constantly sending out forms. Sometimes the forms ask questions with an ominous threat that if the forms are not completed, signed, and returned, benefits may be reduced or affected. But, can benefits be affected if the forms are not filled out completely or correctly? Sometimes.
The biggest question carriers seem to want to know is whether you have looked for work while on workers’ compensation. In many cases, the carrier is looking to see if the worker has returned to work, but at other times, the carrier just wants to know if the worker has bothered to look. Because, if the worker who is not completely disabled informs the carrier he has made no effort to look for a new job, the carrier can use that form as the basis to stop payments.
This is because in some cases, carriers take the position that if a worker has not looked hard enough for a new job, assuming the worker can’t do the old job nor has no old job to go back to, the worker is not entitled to any further payments. And, the best proof that you haven’t looked hard enough for work is that you told them so when you filled in the form and signed it.
This is the case with workers on temporary payments. But even if the worker is someone who was awarded permanent workers’ compensation payments, the carrier can seek to have those payments stopped even if the worker was told a long time ago that the benefits were permanent. In many instances, insurance companies are sending forms just to get the right answer so the case can be reopened. Even if the carrier doesn’t believe the Workers’ Compensation Board will suspend payments, the carrier may still want to use these threatening and harassing tactics to convince workers to take disadvantageous settlements.
Therefore, while the vast majority of forms have little significance, sometimes the insurance companies send these forms to help defend their claims. Information is power and the more information the insurance companies have, the better the odds that something can go wrong for the injured worker. After all, why would insurance companies go to the trouble and expense of sending forms if there was no profit to be made by doing so? Each claimant whose benefits are permanently suspended results in a big cost savings to the insurance company. And, try telling a judge you have tried to work after you swore to the insurance company you didn’t.
Contact Robert A. Koenigsberg
Again, the solution is to have a New York Workers’ Compensation lawyer guide you. Call me and I will be able to help you understand what forms are necessary and what forms are traps. While most cases don’t end up in front of a judge with the carrier trying to use a signed form as an excuse to close out the case, I have seen enough instances of this happening to be wary. The best analogy would be that the government doesn’t necessarily review every tax return or call every taxpayer in for an audit. These are spot checked. In the same way, the carrier spot checks the forms that come in. And, if they decide you are the case they want to investigate, you might find yourself having to defend yourself for something thought was a trivial and simple matter. Call (212) 964-9292 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation.