What are Supplemental Earnings Benefits (SEB)?
If your doctor releases you to return to work with restrictions and those restrictions prevent you from earning at least 90% of your Average Weekly Wage (AWW), you may be entitled to a benefit intended to make up part if the difference between what you were earning before the accident and what you are able to earn now due to the restrictions. SEB is calculated at 2/3 of the difference between the AWW and a given month’s earnings. SEB is paid monthly. However, in instances where someone has been released to return to work with restrictions, but there are no jobs available, that person could receive SEB at the same rate and timing as the TTD.
Generally, someone’s entitlement to SEB lasts for 520 weeks, or 10 years, with the employer and its insurer getting a credit for the weeks of TTD already paid. There are exceptions that could extend the length of time that someone can receive SEB.
If you are receiving SEB, or think that your workers’ compensation benefits may soon be converted to SEB, the attorneys at Workers’ Compensation, L.L.C. can discuss your possible options and the strategies that you can undertake to maximize these benefits.
Who qualifies for Supplemental Earnings Benefits?
Any employee who is injured in an accident at work, and whose injured prevent them from returning to work making at least 90% of their pre-accident wages may be eligible for SEB. If an employee was receiving TTD, and a doctor release the employee to return to work with restrictions, the employee’s TTD will be converted to SEB. You do not have to be discharged from your doctor’s care to get SEB. In fact, we have seen Courts approve SEB even though the client and her doctor were fighting to get surgery approved.
SEB is calculated at 2/3 of the difference between the employee’s AWW and a given month’s earnings. For example, if you were averaging earning $1,000.00 per week before your accident, and you return to work but because of your restrictions can only earn $400.00 per week, you could be entitled to SEB. SEB is paid on a monthly basis, so you would receive approximately $2,600.00 each month under this example. SEB is due within 15 days or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier receipt of an earnings report (Form 1020) for the month.
Here is a link of the Form 1020 from the Louisiana Workforce Commission: Document
The attorneys at Workers’ Compensation, L.L.C., can assist you in completing this form, and explain how it may affect your claim. Call us to review your payments and ensure that you are receiving the correct amount.
What if my employer wants to transfer me to another department or offer me a different position?
Your employer does not have to offer you the same job that you had before. Oftentimes, an employee is unable to do the job that they once held because of the restrictions. Your employer does not have to offer you a job when you are released to return to work with restrictions. If your employer cannot offer you a new position then you may still receive SEB. The problem that we often see if that an employee is dissatisfied with the new position being offered by the employer and quits. An employee will not qualify for SEB if the employee refuses to accept a suitable alternative job offered by his or her employer.
When an employee cannot offer the employee suitable alternative work, the insurance company may retain a vocational rehabilitation counselor to identify jobs that fall within the employee’s restrictions. Any job identified by a vocational rehabilitation counselor should be reviewed and approved by your doctor before the insurance company can rely on the job to reduce your benefits. Remember, the insurance company can reduce your benefits based on a job that has been approved by your doctor even if you apply and do not get the job.
It is important that you stay involved in the vocational rehabilitation process. You should have a direct discussion with your doctor about your limitations or restrictions. You should make sure that your doctor clearly reports these limitations or restrictions.
The law requires an employer or insurance company to show that a potential job falls within an employee’s physical restrictions, and that the employee is a suitable candidate for it. There is a difference between a potential employer accepting application in general, and actively interviewing candidates for a position. It is not reasonable to reduce someone’s benefits based on a secretary position if that person has no computer or typing skills.
The attorneys at Workers’ Compensation, L.L.C., can help you through the vocational rehabilitation process to make sure that it is being conducted fairly. We can discuss the type of work that you believe you are able to perform and the jobs that the vocational rehabilitation counselor has identified for you.