Let’s talk about temporary total disability benefits injured public safety officers are entitled to receive under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act.
The New Jersey Workers Compensation Act provides each employee who has suffered a workplace injury with temporary total disability benefits. Temporary total disability benefits are those benefits that are most akin, or similar, to temporary disability benefits one would receive from The State of New Jersey during the period of time that he or she could not work as a result of an injury or illness. However, temporary total disability benefits in the workers’ compensation arena are limited to those individuals who have been injured at work.
An injured worker in the state of New Jersey can expect to receive 70% of his or her gross average weekly wage for 26 weeks before he or she was injured subject to a maximum amount established by The New Jersey Department of Labor. The maximum amount of weekly temporary total disability benefits change year to year and rise based on cost of living adjustments as enacted by The New Jersey State Legislature. Payments of temporary total disability benefits will continue for the injured worker until one of two events occur. Benefits will cease at the time that the injured worker is medically cleared to return to work, or has recovered to the point that he or she would no longer benefit from medical treatment. Attorneys often refer to this standard as Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). When one of these two events occurs, temporary total workers’ compensation benefits will cease, and the employee will no longer receive 70% of the gross weekly wage.
However the payment of temporary total disability benefits as it pertains to public safety officers in the state of New Jersey is different. Most public safety officers that are injured on the job, the injury is “documentable” as occurring on the job, and the injury is not a reoccurring pre-existing injury, will receive Sick Leave Injury benefits. Sick Leave Injury benefits are more commonly referred to as SLI benefits. SLI benefits entitle the injured public safety officer to receive full pay for a period of one year from the date of injury, or until the individual has reached maximum medical improvement and has returned to employment, whichever occurs first. Unfortunately, SLI benefits do not include overtime wages that would have been earned but for the injury. Furthermore, it is very important to understand that if the injured public safety officer cannot return to work due to the severity of the injury within one year from the date of the accident, SLI benefits will cease and convert to temporary total disability benefits under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act. The particular legal nuances that pertain to SLI benefits will be discussed in more detail in a later post.
In our next entry we will talk about the medical benefits injured public safety officers are entitled to receive under the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act.