Loss Of Earning Power (LEP) Benefits
An injured worker can return to their job under Loss of Earning Power (LEP) benefits with a doctor’s medical clearance. If you are not deemed fit to fulfill your prior duties or responsibilities, your L&I lawyer will help arrange for light-duty or transitional work for you as you continue toward full recovery.
How Do I Qualify For Loss Of Earning Power Benefits?
Your loss of earnings must be greater than 5 percent of wages at the time of injury. Some examples include:
- Returning to work for less pay.
- Returning to work at your regular wage but at reduced hours.
Furthermore, you must meet the following criteria:
- Your doctor must certify that your loss of earning capacity is due to your work-related injury or occupational illness. If your doctor approves a written light-duty or transitional job and you choose not to accept the work, you are not entitled to LEP or wage replacement.
- You must still be working and earning income salary, wages, or commission.
What Are Examples Of Light-duty Jobs?
Light-duty or transitional work can include:
- Working shorter hours.
- Performing some of your original duties part-time, then gradually increasing back to your full-time work responsibilities.
- Performing different duties with lighter physical demands as you transition back to your regular job.
- Adjusting your job or worksite to meet your physical limitations by providing tools, equipment, or the appliances that you need to perform your job as expected by your employer.
Concerns about returning to work—and the possible impact on your claim—are normal, but don’t let these concerns stop you from talking to your employer. You can continue to receive treatment for your claim until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
How To Apply For Loss Of Earning Power Benefits In Washington State
The amount of documentation required for your case depends on how severe your injury or occupational illness is. In most cases, you will need to provide details about your injury, your employment history, and the medical treatment you need or are currently receiving. You will likely require the assistance of an experienced L&I attorney to help you collect all the required documentation. You can apply for LEP benefits on the L&I website.
In order to receive LEP benefits from L&I, there are two very important things that you must do right away, even before a claim is filed:
- Get medical help.
- Tell your employer.
If you are injured at work, you have three options to file a Washington State L&I claim:
- File by phone at 877.561.3453.
- File online through the L&I website’s File Fast tool.
- File at your doctor’s office.
You must further:
- Verify that you are not working by completing a Work Status Form for L&I.
- Visit an approved L&I doctor so they can complete an Independent Medical Exam (IME) to evaluate your injury and determine your eligibility for benefits.
L&I will consider your claim and make the determination based on your personal circumstances. Note that if you work with a self-insured employer, you must file your claim with them.
How To Calculate Loss Of Earning Power Benefits
LEP calculations are one of the following:
- 80 percent of the difference between your date of injury wages and current wages or
- 1 minus the percentage of your current reduced wages to your date of injury wages times your current time loss rate. The higher of the two calculations is paid.
How Long Do Loss Of Earning Power Benefits Last?
When your L&I claim closes, or you have returned to your full earning capacity, your LEP benefits will end.
However, if you suffer a permanent reduction in wages or earning power as a result of your workplace injury, you may be able to claim one of the following L&I benefits:
- 1. L&I Disability Pension: A life-long benefit awarded to injured workers who will never be able to return to any gainful employment due to a severe or life-threatening injury.
- 2. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award: A one-time sum paid to injured workers when their L&I claim is closed. The worker can re-enter the workforce following a PPD award.
- 3. Claim Resolution Settlement Agreement (CRSA): An L&I settlement option where all parties agree to close an injury claim for a specified amount. When agreeing to this settlement type, the injured worker exchanges all future benefits, except medical, for the payment.
Does FMLA Affect My Eligibility?
No. Any leave you take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) should not impact your ability to make a claim for LEP benefits. They are separate claims.
Remember, just as you are entitled to apply for LEP benefits, it’s important that your employer treats you fairly and does not discriminate against you for exercising your FMLA rights. If your FMLA rights have been violated, contact the legal team at Emery | Reddy, PLLC today for a free case review.
Loss of Earning Power Or Time-Loss Compensation
Loss of Earning Power benefits are not the same as time-loss. Time-loss compensation, also known as wage replacement benefits, is a partial wage replacement for an L&I claim and is paid every two weeks while you are not working due to a job injury or an occupational illness.
Loss of Earning Power benefits apply to workers able to return to work, but only on light duty. This can be on a part-time basis or at a lower rate of pay.
Your L&I Claim Is Worth More If You Also Have An Employment Law Claim
A significant number of L&I workers’ compensation claims often involve additional legal claims such as employment law or third-party claims. Many people file their claims without seeking representation from an L&I attorney and thus never discover that in addition to their L&I claim, they may be missing out on the ability to file an employment law claim or a third-party claim. Pursuing additional legal action has the potential to significantly increase a claim’s overall compensation.
What Is An Employment Law Claim?
Many injured workers find that their employer has taken, or plans to take, adverse action against them because they filed an L&I claim or they are out of work. You can file a lawsuit against your employer for several reasons, including retaliation, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, or unpaid wages. An L&I attorney who is experienced in both L&I workers’ compensation law and employment law can help you with your L&I claim while simultaneously filing a federal or state law claim for the violation of workers’ rights by your employer.
What Is A Third-Party Claim?
A third-party claim is one in which someone other than your employer or co-worker is responsible for your injury. If you have been injured on the job due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party claim, which combines your L&I claim with a personal injury claim using the same facts.
Unlike workers’ compensation payments, there is no limit to the amount of compensation an injured worker may seek in third-party damages.
Who Is At Fault For A Workplace Injury?
L&I is a no-fault system, ensuring compensation for any workplace injury. However, if a third party is involved in causing the injury, you may be able to pursue legal action against them for additional compensation under third-party claims.
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
The bottom line is that anyone who isn’t familiar with L&I claims should seek the input of experienced L&I attorneys who are.
After years of helping injured workers, Emery | Reddy has recovered hundreds of millions for our clients. Our team of L&I attorneys is experienced in litigating L&I claims, injury law claims, and employment violations. We understand how to leverage each claim in state (or federal) court and before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals to maximize the value of all of your claims.
Emery | Reddy Can Help You With Your L&I Claim
Emery | Reddy is the only law firm in Washington State that is equipped to provide comprehensive representation on your case from every angle. We thoroughly assess every case to determine if our clients have additional claims, and at times this can extend far beyond the underlying workers’ compensation claim.
If you have been injured in the workplace, call Emery | Reddy today to speak with our legal team for a free case review. Please remember to have your L&I claim number readily available.
Want More Information?
Navigating an L&I claim can be extremely complex and time-consuming, even when you’re not the injured or sick party. Follow these steps to ensure that your L&I claim is closed quickly and in your best interests.
The L&I workers’ compensation process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I workers’ comp questions today.
To determine the value of your L&I award you first need to understand the different types of workers’ compensation offered in Washington State.
Meet The Team
The L&I attorneys at Emery | Reddy are passionate about helping workers with L&I claims and employment law issues. We Help Workers®: it’s our motto and it’s what drives us every day.
We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our labor and industries attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over two decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.
If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, please call us and see how Emery | Reddy can help you today.