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Workers’ Comp Doctors Release, Does Workers’ Comp Stop Paying and Do I Have To Return To Work?


Your workers’ compensation doctor could release you to “full duty, no restriction” work even if you are still in pain and haven’t fully recovered. The workers’ comp insurance company may discontinue payments when this happens, consequently, you will stop receiving wage loss benefits.

This situation creates uncertainties and difficulties.

  • If you have not completely recovered the full functioning of your injured body part or if pain persists, you’ll have problems returning to full duty work.
  • If you have been cleared to return to work by your doctor, you may lose the wage loss payments or financial support you had.
  • A full duty release may impact your potential to receive benefits under federal laws that often take effect after a workplace injury

What if I’m released to work but with job restrictions?

Your doctor may also give you a light duty release, which means you can go back to work but with restrictions. Your tasks may be modified according to your condition or you might work only for a few hours. Your comp payments should continue if you are still being treated for your condition.

Your payments could be stopped if you refuse to comply with the job restrictions. This could happen if the doctor has determined that you could perform light work duties and you refuse to go back.

Can I get a second medical opinion if my doctor releases me to work?

Your employer and insurance company are eager to get you back to work immediately. As soon as you return to work, they can stop paying your full workers’ comp benefits to save money. Yes, you could get a second medical opinion after your doctor releases you to work if pain and other symptoms of your injury continue.

You don’t have to rush back to work. Saving the insurance company money is not your responsibility. Your primary concern is receiving the medical treatment you need in order to recover from your injuries.

The insurance company will not pay for a second medical opinion. You may, however, be able to get the insurance company to pay for it with the help of a workers’ compensation attorney.

Ask your workers’ comp doctor to refer you to a second opinion physician

If your treating doctor has nothing more to offer for your care, you could request a referral to another physician for a second opinion. If your doctor accommodates your request, your employer and its insurance provider must pay for the other doctor’s second medical opinion. The insurance company does not normally pay for a second physician’s opinion unless your authorized doctor agrees that you need it.

Pay for the second opinion yourself

What if your treating doctor turns down your second opinion referral and the insurance carrier won’t grant it either? You can pay another doctor yourself to get a second opinion. You could also use any government-provided insurance or your own health insurance. Doing this will let you to see the doctor of your choice.

Paying for a second opinion by yourself is expensive. If you hire a workers’ comp attorney, they may pay for an evaluation with a claimant-friendly doctor of their choice.

When should I seek advice from a workers’ comp attorney?

Where workers’ compensation is concerned, a return to work usually means the termination of your benefits. You should not return to work until you have fully recovered, and a physician has declared that you can report back to work. Returning to work too soon can increase the chances of complications or further injury, making it harder for you to heal completely.

Contact a workers’ compensation attorney if you are having workers’ compensation benefits problems such as late payments or pressure to get back to work. If you have been cleared for work but don’t agree with the doctor’s assessment, talk with an attorney.

In Virginia, get in touch with Slominski Law and speak to a member of our team as soon as possible. Schedule a free consultation or call us today at (434) 384-9400 in Lynchburg or at (540) 554-3762 in Roanoke.