Workers Compensation Restrictions

What it means to have ‘restrictions’ and why your doctor’s testimony could make or break your workers compensation case.

Most people have some ability to find employment after a work injury. This is important because it can have a big impact on entitlement to workers compensation benefits. Partially disabled individuals only receive a fraction of their lost wages.

Employers who offer modified duty can get a credit for any wages paid. This provides a powerful incentive to bring employees back to work with restrictions. Unfortunately, insurance companies can also use “wage earning capacity” to reduce the amount of benefits. This is when the insurance company says you can work but you do not actually have a job.

Disputes about the availability of jobs are common in the Michigan workers compensation system. Many of these cases are decided based upon the testimony of a doctor regarding your ability to work. Think of workers compensation restrictions as a physical limit to the amount of activity you can perform.

Common restrictions include the maximum weight you can lift, how long you can stand or sit, and whether you can work a full 8 hour day. Restrictions can also be classified into different exertional levels. These are used by vocational experts and magistrates to determine the availability of jobs.

Sedentary Work – Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally (Occasionally: activity or condition exists up to 1/3 of the time) and/or a negligible amount of force frequently (Frequently: activity or condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time) to lift, carry, push, pull, or otherwise move objects, including the human body. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time, but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required only occasionally and all other sedentary criteria are met.

Light Work – Exerting up to 20 pounds of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly (Constantly: activity or condition exists 2/3 or more of the time) to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for Sedentary Work. Even though the weight lifted may be only a negligible amount, a job should be rated Light Work: (1) when it requires walking or standing to a significant degree; or (2) when it requires sitting most of the time but entails pushing and/or pulling of arm or leg controls; and/or (3) when the job requires working at a production rate pace entailing the constant pushing and/or pulling of materials even though the weight of those materials is negligible. NOTE: The constant stress and strain of maintaining a production rate pace, especially in an industrial setting, can be and is physically demanding of a worker even though the amount of force exerted is negligible.

Medium Work – Exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Light Work.

Heavy Work – Exerting 50 to 100 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 25 to 50 pounds of force frequently, and/or 10 to 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Medium Work. Very Heavy Work – Exerting in excess of 100 pounds of force occasionally, and/or in excess of 50 pounds of force frequently, and/or in excess of 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Heavy Work.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a case. We have represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation.

Related information:

When permanent work restrictions end your career

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by pasukaru76.

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