Settling Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
What is a Section 32 Waiver?
Workers’ Compensation entails payments to employees for lost income and lifetime medical treatment for an illness or injury. However, you and the insurance company may decide to close your claim permanently for a single or annual payment through a Section 32 Waiver.
You elect to terminate any future compensation in exchange for immediate payment. We will discuss how a Section 32 Waiver affects current lost income and medical care. You may resolve one while maintaining one claim open. As a result, you may choose to receive benefits or close your case, depending on yourself and the insurer.
Which portions of your claim can you completely close?
You may accept a single or annual payment to cover future lost wages. You, your attorney, and the insurance provider will determine the sum of the payment. However, negotiation is possible, and all Workers’ Compensation claims are tax-free. You must remember that if accepted, this would be a final Workers’ Compensation award for lost wages due to illness or injury. As a result, the insurance company will never cover your medical care expenses if you accept a Section 32 Waiver.
Suppose your Workers’ Compensation injury requires future medical care. Then, you may need to budget some of your single or annual payments into a separate account. When resolving a claim, the parties involved consider the interests of Medicare. As a result, you may need to create a Medicare Set-Aside account (MSA) with money from your Section 32 Waiver settlement to pay for any future Workers’ Compensation medical care expenses.
If you fail to consider Medicare’s interest when settling your claim may result in Medicare’s refusal to pay for your Workers’ Compensation injury treatment. Therefore, you should verify with Medicare to understand your rights and responsibilities. Medicare is a federal program, and the Workers’ Compensation Board has no jurisdiction in regulating Medicare.
What happens if I spend all the settlement money?
Suppose you spend all your settlement money for future medical expenses, including those from an MSA. Then, you may need to use Medicare or cover expenses out-of-pocket. Medicare is a federal government program, and you must meet specific criteria, such as age, social security, and disability insurance. In addition, health insurance will not cover the cost of illness or injury due to employment, even if purchased through a state or federal program.
However, you and your insurance company may decide to maintain an open claim on the medical portion of your case. As a result, the insurance company will continue paying for medical treatment. To resolve the claim, your lawyer will discuss the resolution with the insurance provider or vice versa.
But, if you do not have a lawyer, you may negotiate with the insurance company and their lawyer. They will likely create an agreement with you, your lawyer, and the insurance company. It is essential to agree with the settlement terms. The Workers’ Compensation Board will review your agreement.
The Workers’ Compensation Board will approve your Section 32 Waiver Agreement, making it final and binding. However, you will have ten days from the submission date to withdraw the agreement, depending on whether you have a Section 32 hearing. If so, the date of submission serves as the hearing date. Then, suppose the judge approves the agreement, and none of the parties withdraw. Then, the Board will mail you a final Section 32 decision and a Notice of Approval after the withdrawal period.
The carrier must pay within the following ten days after issuing the final decision. You will receive a Proposed Notice of Approval if a hearing is not required and the Board approves the agreement but not yet a final decision. This proposed notice will include the submission date. Then, you will have ten days from the submission date to withdraw in writing.
The notice will also provide a specific date the agreement will become final. The Workers’ Compensation Board must, by law, check child support liens. As a result, any settlement disbursement will go into a child support lien, and you will receive the balance. In addition, if you use a lawyer, their fee is deducted from your settlement.
Deciding to settle your wages, you will end the claim in exchange for a payment. In addition, you permanently waive your right toward future benefits or payments. You must carefully plan for any necessary medical care and manage your settlement to supplement future lost wages.
Only you can decide if accepting a Section 32 Waiver agreement is your best option.
Refer to your state’s Workers’ Compensation Board website or speak with a Workers’ Compensation attorney for additional information.