- Vacation and Workers Compensation: Can You Take a Vacation While Receiving Benefits?
- May 29, 2014 | Author: Joseph A. Miller
- Law Firm: Joe Miller Law, Ltd. - Norfolk Office
It is once again that time of year when people start to go on vacations. The children are out of school, the weather is nice, and the days are longer; however, if you are receiving benefits under Workers Compensation, you may want to think twice before going on vacation. In this article we will discuss why going on vacation could have adverse effects on your workers compensation claim.
If you are receiving workers compensation benefits and you are required to see a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, or any other doctor or specialist, it is very important that you keep your appointments and attend every one. If you go on vacation for a long period of time and miss an appointment or request that the doctor change your appointment, you could risk losing your benefits.
Missing an appointment or rescheduling an existing appointment could be viewed as failure to comply with medical treatment by your nurse case manager. As such, particularly in Virginia, the case manager could have the defense lawyers file an application to have your benefits taken away. Once your benefits are stopped, it could be years until they are restored, if ever.
If you are going on a short trip and you will not be missing or rescheduling any doctor appointments to do so, you may be alright. However, as we will discuss in the next section, there are still other issues you need to be aware of even if your medical treatment is not affected.
They are always watching
Another issue you need to be aware of is that a worker’s compensation carrier will be keeping an eye on you. It costs very little for them to hire an investigator who is stationed far away from you with a high-powered lens to video your activities. They will always be looking for anything that you do that could damage your workers compensation claim. Of particular concern are any activities which might be viewed as inconsistent with your doctor's restrictions.
When you are on vacation it can be very tempting to do things that you should not be doing with your restrictions. For example, you may be tempted to go jet skiing with the rest of the family, even though with your restrictions and medical condition you clearly should not be doing that. Or, there may be yard work that involves lifting or engaging in other activities that fall well outside your doctor’s restrictions. Even if there is no investigator, in today's age of smartphones, which are everywhere, videos or photos of you jet skiing or dirt biking take only seconds to be sent out to thousands on Facebook or other social media, in which case you can say goodbye to your benefits.
Marketing does not stop while you're on vacation
Yet another issue that could harm your benefits is job marketing. If you are not under an open award for your workers compensation claim in Virginia, you must be looking for 5-7 jobs a week. If you go on vacation and you stop looking for a week or you find less than 5 for a week, you will have forfeited the right to claim temporary total disability benefits for that week. Similar requirements exist in North Carolina, although they are not as strict. The bottom line is your vacation should not be a vacation from your marketing efforts and your documentation of those efforts.
If you will not be missing or rescheduling any medical appointments and if you can continue to search for the required 5-7 jobs per week (when not under an open award) then you may go on vacation. But even then, you should be aware that there may be people watching and possibly recording your every move. Do not participate in activities that you should not be doing with your medical restrictions.