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How does workers' compensation help employees?

Workers' compensation is provided for through both federal and state programs and may be able to help workers who are injured or ill in a variety of ways. Family members may also be able to receive help from workers' compensation programs. In general, workers' compensation is a disability compensation program for workers. While Workers' Compensation is a federal program, states also have workers' compensation programs for non-federal workers who work for private employers. In general, workers who have been injured on the job, or who have suffered an occupational disease, can recover disability compensation through benefits that fall into different categories.

Categories of workers' compensation can include medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, vocational rehabilitation, as well as other benefits that may be available. Workers' compensation benefits may be available to workers and families of workers. Dependants of workers who have died in a work-related accident or from a work-related illness may also be able to receive benefits.

In general, workers' compensation is an alternative to litigation for workers, and their families, when a worker has been injured, fallen ill or killed on the job. Under federal law, disabled federal workers can receive two-thirds of the employee's monthly salary during the period of disability and may receive additional benefits for permanent disability or for dependents. While medical expenses may be covered, workers may be required to go through the process of job re-training.

Both federal and state workers' compensation programs exist to protect workers in similar ways and most states require private employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. A variety of different types of accidents and injuries may lead to coverage for the injured worker. Though the process may sometimes seem complex and overwhelming, it is important that workers understand their rights and the resources available to them when they have suffer harm on the job.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Workers' Compensation," Accessed Sept. 4, 2014

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