By Tricia Bellich and Trenton Gill
In Indiana, is an injured employee being paid Temporary Total Disability under the Workers' Compensation Act, owed benefits if terminated or laid off?
The answer is yes, it is owed.
Indiana defines TTD by the inability to do one's regular work. The employer can relieve itself on the obligation to pay TTD by providing restricted work. If the employer cannot do so, then TTD continues until the point of MMI is reached.
The Indiana WC Board has enforced this rule. When an employee is not at MMI, an employer must tender “light duty” employment (accommodations) or Pay TTD. The “economic argument” (by way of employee cutbacks) does not escape an employer’s obligation to pay TTD. The current guidance on this issue comes from Platinum Constr. Group, LLC v. Collings, 988 N.E.2d 1153 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), involved an injured worker received TTD benefits and was eventually released back to full duty (terminating TTD). Shortly thereafter, the worker was laid off for “economic reasons” because the company dissolved. After being laid off, worker tried to work at two other companies but found he had ongoing physical limitations. A subsequent IME determined he was not at MMI. He filed his application and the board eventually awarded him additional TTD benefits following his layoff through the date he eventually reached MMI.
What about Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
The answer again is yes, if the status quo of the light duty work meeting the employee’s restrictions remains available and the restricted worker continues to work, the restricted worker is paid for his light duty hours (earnings) and then supplemented by TPD benefits, subject to statutory caps and applicability. However, if an employee is working light duty and receiving TPD benefits but the light duty position becomes no longer available, then the employee is entitled to TTD benefits.
If you have questions, feel free to contact a member of Reminger's Workers' Compensation Practice Group.