condition and I was told by my Doctor that I could no longer and should no longer continue working in the nursing field. I did not report any specific injury to my employer, just went out on STD when my back went out. Also since I am no longer able to perform the job that I was trained to do, should I try to apply for Social security disability? I also have heart disease which I had restrictions at my job and my employer said that I had to get an updated note because they could not honor those restrictions, which I did do. They have also added to my stress, I have been in the hospital twice since I returned to work after my open-heart surgery, because of being forced to work overtime, as much as 30hours per week when I told my employer that I have been feeling very worn out.
Your question addresses many issues that may be too difficult to answer in this space. However, I will endeavor to try to respond.
With respect to allegations that your employment activities aggravated a pre--existing lower back injury, you may be eligible for Workers Compensation as aggravations of pre-existing conditions can be considered a "new" injury if it can be proven that your work activities and did, in fact aggravate prior neck and back conditions that prevented you from working.
With that stated, you may have a Notice issue since you indicate that you did not advise your employer of any specific injury, but rather, went out on STD. There is a 21 day Notice requirement in order to be eligible for Workers Compensation Benefits from the date of your injury, however, if you failed to provide proper Notice, you may still provide Notice within 120 days, however, he would not be eligible for any Workers Compensation from the date of your injury until the date that notice is provided to her employer. If you are now beyond the 120 day Notice time limit, you may have waived any right to possible Workers Compensation Benefits.
In addition, your Employers Workers Compensation Carrier may be entitled to a "credit" and/or "offset" for any STD benefits that you received for the same period of time you are seeking Workers Compensation.
It is my recommendation that you immediately contact and Attorney who is a Certified Specialist in Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Law to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your rights and remedies with respect to your allegations. The initial consultation would be free of charge and most Attorneys would accept your case on a Contingent Fee Basis.
With respect to Social Security, in order to be eligible for same, you must have "insured status" which typically involves working five out of the last 10 years, and have a severe disabling condition that either has or is expected to prevent you from working for 12 months or more. As you indicated that you have attempted to return to work and are unable to do so, you may be able to argue that your recent attempts to return to work constituted a "failed to work attempt" and you could use your date of onset when you originally went out on STD.
Once again, it is my recommendation that you contact an experienced Social Security Attorney (which may be the same Attorney who will handle your Workers Compensation Case) for an initial consultation to discuss your eligibility for same.
You have an awful lot going on but you should give notice of the work condition as soon as possible. You can be on WC and STD at the same time with a credit possibly. SSD prior to your WC resolution can make things more difficult - which will depend on some age and other factors that are not mentioned here. The heart issue would not necessarily disqualify you from WC so long as you are not disabled solely for these reasons. I find these types of cases with another condition interesting because often times it ties the employers hand with the jobs they make available. That can help with negotiating a settlement. I would be careful with how you are explaining things to your employer, especially regarding the heart condition. I honestly would talk to an attorney about planning how you can maximize the benefits for you and your family and also protect yourself.
Timothy P. Brennan, Esq.
Brennan Law Offices
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Responses are based solely on Pennsylvania law unless stated otherwise.
I agree with my colleagues. You should be in contact with a workers' compensation attorney ASAP. There are several issues to look at in your case and some may be time-sensitive (specifically the requirement that you promptly report your work injury to your employer). The earlier you sit down with an attorney, the better your chances of a positive outcome.
You have raised several important issues. However, they are complicated and interrelate, so without all of the facts, it is impossible to give you good guidance. You should be aware that in order to pursue a Workers' Compensation case, you must give notice of your work injury within 120 of the injury and the sooner the better. Thus, you should seek a consultation with an experienced Workers' Compensation attorney as soon as possible. There is no cost and no obligation, but the information is priceless and you can only make good decisions if you know all of the facts and options.
Agree with all the above. It is best to sit down with an Attorney that practices workers compensation and social security disability. You did not report an injury to your employer, so you have some issues that can be worked around there. In terms of your workers compensation case, what do your doctors say? Have you told them that work aggravates your condition? Aggravation of pre-existing conditions can be a separate work injury, and therefore, possibly be compensable. In terms of SSD, much will depend on what your doctors are saying and what you current restrictions are from your treating doctors. Best thing you can do, sit down with an Attorney and get some answers.
1. Workers Compensation: You have three years from your date of injury to file a Claim Petition. In a gradual injury claim like yours, the date of injury is generally (but not always) the last day of work. You have 21 or 120 days from the date you knew or should have known that your injury is work related to tell your employer 1) that you have an injury 2) caused by work. The WC insurance company has 21 days to accept or deny your claim. If they deny it; you have 3 years to file a claim petition as noted above. Your potential WC case is worth looking into if you have a doctor backing you. 2) Social Security- To qualify; you must be off work for 6 months with the expectation of being off work for one year and have medical proof that you cant do any job, not just the job you were doing. SS is rigged in favor of claimants who are over 50 and under a 12th grade education, You may qualify with your combination of heart and back problems. Many good claims are denied at the first level so be prepared to file an Appeal/Request for Hearing
I am sorry to hear you are having issues with your back. You do need to talk with a workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can help you determine whether you have a strong case due to the injury aggravation. You might have some issues with notice, in terms of making sure the employer knew a while back what was the cause of your injury. You should make sure you go to a firm that handles social security claims as well. You might have both a WC and an SSD claim and it is important you look at all of your options.
Don't put off talking to a lawyer. Giving proper notice to your employer about the cause of your pain is very important.
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