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If you got injured or sick on the job in Ohio, you qualify for workers' compensation. These benefits, provided through your employer and the state, make up for your medical costs and lost wages.
Many people who think they wouldn’t qualify for workers’ comp actually do, especially when they have a lawyer to help them apply. Here’s how workers’ comp works in Ohio.
You qualify for Ohio workers’ comp if you get sick or injured while working. Workers’ compensation is “no fault”—meaning that you should qualify regardless of the nature of the accident, or who was to blame for your injuries.
While employees who live in Ohio qualify for workers compensation anytime they’re hurt while working, there are special rules for workers in these categories:
Independent contractors don’t qualify for workers’ comp. But, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) may consider you an employee even if your employer calls you a contractor. If they have a lot of control over your hours, processes, and work location, you might actually be an employee under the law.
If you miss seven days of work or fewer from your injury, you can qualify for medical coverage only. The BWC calls this type of benefit medical only.
Workers who miss eight or more days of work get lost time benefits, meaning they get payments for lost work time and medical coverage.
Injuries you receive at work qualify for workers’ comp, including:
If you aren’t sure if your condition qualifies, take our two-minute quiz. You’ll learn if you could qualify and get access to further legal help.
In certain situations, an injury won’t qualify for workers’ comp, even if it fits the categories you just learned about. These cases could disqualify an injury:
As soon as possible after your injury, report it to your employer. Unlike other states, Ohio doesn’t put a time limit on how soon you should let your employer know about your injury, but early reporting will help you make a good case. It’s easier to remember details about the incident soon after it happens, and you’ll avoid any doubt of your eligibility related to late reporting.
Once you tell your employer about your condition, it’s time to file your workers’ comp claim. You or one of the following people can file for workers’ comp on your behalf:
Any of these people besides your doctor can complete the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease or Death (FROI) form online to complete a claim. They can also mail or fax the PDF version of the form or call the BWC to file a claim over the phone.
Doctors have a slightly different process to follow. They need to submit a claim using the FROI form within 24 hours of your visit with them. In addition to using the methods mentioned above, they can also send the claim to your employer’s MCO.
The workers’ comp process in Ohio involves these people:
The BWC aims to make a decision on each claim within four weeks. During that time, they’ll review information from you, your employer, and your employer’s MCO. The MCO may get in touch to get more medical information from you. You may also need to complete the Authorization to Release Medical Information (C-101) form to release your medical records.
If your condition causes you to lose eight days of work or more, the BWC might request details about your wages. They’ll use this information to decide how much you can get in benefits to cover your lost time.
In situations where your condition will make you lose a lot of work time, you might need to submit two more forms. You’ll fill out the Request for Temporary Total Compensation (C-84) form. Meanwhile, your doctor will complete the Physician's Report of Work Ability (MEDCO-14). The BWC will ask you to regularly file these forms if you need to stay out of work for a while.
Once the BWC makes a decision on your claim, you or your employer can appeal it within 14 days. If you appeal, your lawyer can help you get the payouts due to you. Your lawyer can also support you if your employer appeals by helping you prove you deserve the benefits you have.
During treatment, remember that the BWC will not pay any medical or pharmacy bills until they approve your claim and the appeal period ends. Keep a record of all of the bills you receive before your claim gets approved, then make sure your first payment covers it all. Talk to your lawyer if they don’t cover everything you paid for upfront.
Before you see a doctor for your condition, know your employer’s MCO or if they’re self-insured. Ask your employer or use the BWC’s database.
During your first visit or an emergency, you can see any doctor to get treatment that the BWC will cover under workers’ comp. For any normal appointment after your first, the BWC requires you to see a BWC-certified provider. You can find one of these doctors using the official directory.
If you want to get wage coverage benefits, give your doctor the Request for Temporary Total Compensation form to fill out on your first visit. Certified doctors already know to do this, but a non-certified doctor may not.
Your doctor may need to get approval from your employer’s MCO for additional treatments or conditions. If you disagree with their decision or your employer appeals, talk to your lawyer about the best course of action.
The amount and frequency of your workers’ comp payments depend on the type of benefit you receive. Let’s look at all of Ohio’s main wage compensation benefit programs:
Most people who get Ohio workers’ comp benefits to replace their wages get temporary total (TT) compensation first. If you can’t work for more than seven days because of your injury, you’ll get weekly payments to make up for your lost wages.
The BWC bases TT compensation payouts on the wages you received before your injury. For the first 12 weeks of benefits, you receive 72% of your full weekly wage. Ohio law calculates your full weekly wage as the higher of these two numbers:
After 12 weeks, you’ll receive benefits based on your average weekly wage — the average wage you earned per week for the year before your injury. These payments add up to 66⅔% of your average weekly wage.
Keep in mind that the BWC sets minimum and maximum amounts for TT compensation pay. In 2023, you can get a maximum of $1,149 per week without Social Security retirement benefits or $766 with them. You must get a minimum of $383 per week.
Permanent partial (PP) and percent of permanent partial (%PP) benefits offer support to people who lose body function due to their condition. Generally, a worker getting workers’ comp will get TT compensation until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) — the point where their condition recovers the most it can. If they can still work but lose function, they can get PP or %PP compensation.
People who have severe and permanent injuries like loss of a limb can get biweekly PP benefits calculated from a total reward based on their injury. The payment installments you’ll receive depend on the date of your injury:
Note that the BWC sets a maximum number of weeks and total award for %PP every year. You can find 2023’s maximums in this document under the “Scheduled Loss - Schedule B” table.
If you have a partial loss of function, like not being able to bend your finger all the way anymore, you could qualify for %PP benefits. The BWC will calculate your pay based on your wages before your injury and American Medical Association scoring. In 2023, you can get a maximum of $383 per week from %PP benefits.
If you can’t work at all after reaching MMI, you qualify for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. You can receive these payments for the rest of your life.
The BWC calculates PTD compensation based on your average weekly wage before your injury and the state weekly average wage. In 2023, people who don’t receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can get a maximum payment of $1,149, while people who do can get up to $766. You’ll get a minimum of $574.50 for PTD payments.
Speaking of SSDI, if your injury made you unable to work, you could also qualify for SSDI benefits. Learn more about this federal program and how to apply for it in our guide.
The length of time that you can get workers’ comp benefits depends on your injury and the program you qualify for. Here are the maximum amounts of time you can stay on each program:
You will receive your first workers’ comp payment soon after the BWC or your employer approves of your claim. The BWC handles most claims within four weeks and requires self-insured employers to make claim decisions within 30 days. If your self-insured employer takes more than a month to make a decision, consult your lawyer about your options to speed up the process.
The time that your lost time from work starts counting for TT compensation depends on the amount of time your injury keeps you out of work. In cases where you can’t work for less than 14 consecutive calendar days, you don’t get compensated for the first seven days you had to take off work. Once you get to a point where you can’t work for 14 days in a row, you’ll receive money covering the lost wages for the first seven days you couldn’t work.
In addition to medical and lost wage coverage, the BWC offers these benefits under workers’ comp:
No, you don’t have to pay taxes on your workers’ comp benefits. Even in cases where you get a lump sum payment instead of weekly payouts, neither the state nor federal governments will tax you on it.
Most people who get workers’ comp can’t go back to work while they get benefits if they want to keep receiving payments.
When you register for TT compensation, the first workers’ comp program most people take part in, you must agree that you won’t work while you receive benefits. The BWC doesn’t allow working while taking part in the TT compensation program.
Workers who get PP or %PP for partial disability can sometimes go back to work (especially if their duties are modified) and receive benefits—but returning to work could affect their payouts. Talk to your lawyer if you want to go back to work while trying to maximize your payments.
If you feel ready to go back to work but not at the capacity you had before, you can take part in one of these programs:
If you decide to participate in one of these programs, remember that you won’t qualify for TT payments anymore. However, if your condition still affects your ability to work after reaching MMI and you can’t get PP or %PP, consider asking for wage loss benefits. This program will provide payments even while you work.
No, you don’t need a lawyer to apply for workers’ comp. But, hiring a lawyer can raise your chance of getting the highest amount of benefits owed to you. Workers’ comp settlements for people who hire a lawyer are five times larger than those for people who don’t.
They’ll guide you through situations like:
Since workers’ comp law stays the same in every city and county in Ohio, you can hire a lawyer anywhere in the state. Follow these tips to find the right lawyer for your case.
Starting a workers’ comp claim and getting a lawyer can seem overwhelming, but you have legal professionals ready to help. Take our workers’ comp eligibility quiz to see if you could qualify and get connected with a lawyer.
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