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Know the workers' compensation benefits you're entitled to get

In Oklahoma, workers' compensation provides medical and financial benefits for workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. Workers' compensation allows for payments for medical care and to help make up for lost wages when you are injured on the job.

Workers' compensation allows for payments for both temporary and permanent total disabilities. Just what is the difference in terms of benefits?

Temporary total disability means you are unable to work because of your injury or illness. You will be compensated, but not what you are accustomed to making. The state has set the compensation at 70% – but not 70% of your weekly salary. Rather, it's 70% of Oklahoma's state average weekly wage. That means if you make $1,000 a week and the state's average wage is $800, you won't receive $700 per week. Instead, you will receive $560.

How long you receive these payments depends on the injury, whether surgery is required and such. The maximum is two years – 104 weeks – but could continue for another year if doctors find, and the state agrees, that additional time is needed for medical improvement.

A person who is determined to have been permanently disabled while on the job has a different benefits structure. Under state law, workers are eligible for payments if they are ruled to be physically incapable of holding a job that reflects their experience and education level.

There is a difference in the benefit amount between temporary and permanent disability. The payment still is set at 70% of your average weekly wage but instead is capped at 100% of average amount employees earn. Therefore, using our previous example of a $1,000 per week salary and a state average wage of $800, you would receive $700 per week.

An Oklahoma worker determined to be permanently and totally disabled may receive benefits for 15 years, or until becoming eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, whichever is longer.

If you have a total disability – whether permanent or temporary – you want to make sure the state sees it that way and will pay you what you're entitled to. As you go through the process of filling out paperwork and seeing doctors, it helps to have an experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side. Your payments could depend on it.

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