Yes. As Long as There is No Change in Disability Status
Many people are concerned about the length of time they can receive disability benefits through the Second Injury Fund (the Special Fund). Generally speaking, if you collect permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) through this fund, your DBA special fund benefits can last the rest of your life as long as there is no change in your disability status.
However, most employees will go through periods of injury improvement or worsening disability, both of which can affect a number of their benefits. Your employer or insurer may petition for a modification of your award based on a change in your condition, causing an increase, decrease, or termination of your payments. A few common situations where an employee’s benefits may be modified include:
Employees collecting PPD benefits may require treatments, rest, or surgery that will leave them temporarily unable to work. During this time, the employee should be considered totally disabled, and his employer or insurance company should modify his benefits to temporarily increase his payments. Temporary disability is paid by the employer, not through the Special Fund.
Unfortunately, some employees who receive PPD benefits will suffer a deterioration of their conditions, making them permanently unable to earn a living. If your injury gets worse to the point where you can no longer work, you must apply for permanent total disability benefits through the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). You must have proper evidence of the change in your condition, such as past medical records, recent medical evaluations, and your doctor’s recommendations and work restrictions. You should also send this information to your employer or insurer to let them know there will be a modification in the amount and type of benefits you receive.
What If My Employer Unfairly Modifies My DBA Benefits?
You, your employer, and your insurer may all submit requests to modify a number of your benefits. If one party does not agree to the proposed changes or termination of benefits, you may request an informal conference to decide the matter or get advice from a longshore attorney on how to proceed. To find out more about getting maximum payment for a DBA injury, read through a free copy of our guide, Win Your Defense Base Act Case.
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