National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Michigan workmans comp lawyer discusses the challenges facing disabled individuals who want to return to gainful employment.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues. With roots going back to 1945, it was originally established by the US Congress and is observed each October.

Disability employment issues do not get much attention in the workmans comp community. Our clients face many challenges, including discrimination, when attempting to work. Most people simply want a chance to be productive and earn a living.

Unfortunately, the deck is stacked in favor of employers and insurance companies. We need to do more to help people get back to work after an on-the-job injury.

Partial disability

Michigan’s workmans comp law underwent significant changes in 2011. The most controversial involving payment of wage loss benefits. Generally, 80% of a person’s after-tax average weekly wage.

Insurance companies are now free to automatically reduce these payments. Vocational experts are hired by insurance companies to say other work is available.  An employee may be told that her or she can work in a job never performed before.

It can takes months or years for a disabled employee to win at trial and show entitlement to full wage loss benefits. Many people give up and accept a nominal settlement from the insurance company.

This is a big change from the old system where employers were encouraged to bring people back to work with restrictions. Employers could then use paid wages to offset any workmans comp benefits owed.

Encouraging employers to hire

According to the US Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 13.1%. This is a disappointing number for anyone trying to get back into the labor market.

Michigan has a fund that is designed to promote employment of disabled individuals. Employer liability is limited to 52 weeks of medical and wage loss benefits if an employee is certified as vocationally handicapped and sustains a new work injury. All rehabilitation expenses will be covered by the fund from day one.

We can help

We understand the challenges disabled workers face. Let us help you hold the insurance company accountable for paying the correct wage loss benefits. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation with our Michigan workmans comp lawyers.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workmans comp benefits and never charges a fee to review a case.

Related information:

U.S. Department of Labor – National Disability Employment Awareness Month

11/01/2013
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