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When Does Illinois Workers’ Comp Start Paying?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
Published June 24, 2024
3 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.

See if you qualify

After an on-the-job injury, you can qualify for Illinois workers’ compensation to help pay your medical bills and cover some of your lost wages. Even though workers’ comp is an insurance program that all employees are entitled to under state law, getting benefits isn’t always easy. If your payments don’t start on time or you run into issues, here’s what you need to know.

When do workers’ comp payments start?

Illinois law requires your employer to send your first workers’ compensation payment within 14 days of when they received your notice of injury.

To avoid late or missed payments, Illinois recommends that once you believe you qualify for workers’ comp, to give your employer a written demand for temporary disability benefits alongside a note from your doctor stating that you cannot work because of your work injury.

How often workers’ comp sends checks

After your first check is sent, you can expect payments to arrive at the same frequency as your regular wages. So if you usually get paychecks every two weeks, your workers’ comp checks should arrive every two weeks.

Calculating your workers’ comp payment

Workers’ comp in Illinois pays at a rate of two-thirds of the average weekly wages (AWW) you earned before your injury. As an example, if your weekly wage is $1,200 before taxes, then your weekly workers’ comp payment is $800. 

There is also a minimum payment of $373.33 per week and a maximum of $1,897.92 per week. Both values are adjusted every six months according to the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW).

Learn more about how much Illinois workers' comp pays.

What to do if your first payment is late

We recommend making two key moves:

First, talk to a workers’ comp lawyer. Your first consultation is free and they’ll be able to answer all your questions about workers’ comp. If you’re having trouble with insurance, your employer, or your medical providers, a lawyer can also help with all of that. 

Second, reach out to the arbitrator who was assigned to your claim by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). This person’s job is to act as an independent party when employees or employers run into issues during the claim process.

If you don’t know who your arbitrator is, Illinois has an online system that allows you to look up your claim. Keep in mind that the arbitrator is randomly assigned to your case and rarely has much time to dedicate to your case since they’re also managing hundreds or thousands of other cases at the same time.

How long workers’ comp benefits last

Workers’ comp benefits last until you return to your regular job duties, reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), or agree to a settlement.

Maximum medical improvement is the point where your workers’ comp doctor declares that you’ve recovered as much as possible, even though you haven’t returned to your pre-injury condition. If you reach MMI and still need medical care or can’t return to your previous job, you can qualify for permanent workers’ comp payments. However, you’re also likely to get a settlement offer.

For injuries that require long-term benefits, the workers’ comp insurance company usually offers to settle your case for one lump sum. A settlement could also simplify things for you. By negotiating a big, lump-sum payment, you get all of your benefits up front and no longer need to get all your medical care approved by workers’ comp.

Read more about when your workers' comp benefits might end.

Get help navigating workers’ comp

The truth is that workers’ compensation is often a technical and confusing process. You can manage your claim on your own but talking to someone who’s trained on navigating claims is a big advantage. That’s where a lawyer comes in.

A workers’ comp lawyer is your advocate throughout the process. They can answer your questions, file paperwork, help you schedule independent medical care, and manage communications with both insurance and your employer.

There’s also no risk to working with a lawyer. They won’t sue your employer, your first consultation is free so you don’t have to work with them if you don’t want to, and you only ever pay their fee after you win benefits or get a settlement.

Atticus is a nationwide law firm with local lawyers in Illinois. If you have questions or need help with your claim, get started by filling out our workers’ comp intake quiz or calling us at the number below.

Settle your workers' comp claim today.

Related resources:

5 Common Questions About Workers’ Comp Lawyers

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By Victoria Muñoz

How Much a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Costs in Every State

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By Victoria Muñoz

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A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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