Should I talk to my physician about my work restrictions?

A: Put briefly, you should always speak to your doctor about work restrictions, if it’s at all possible. You should inquire with your doctor about his or her opinion on your ability to return to work with restrictions, what those restrictions should be, what your functional capacity is for sustained labor, and anything else that might be relevant to your ability to work. 

Before you leave your doctor’s office, remember to get a disability slip. In Virginia, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will not pay your weekly check unless they have a copy of your disability slip. This slip indicates in writing that you have work restrictions and what those restrictions are, whether it be light duty restrictions of some kind or whether it be that you cannot work in any capacity at all.

It is important that you get these disability slips from your doctor before he hands them off to the workers’ compensation insurance company.  Many times, a nurse case manager may attempt to unjustly influence your doctor’s opinion on your work status and get the doctor to change it.  

In this way, if you address the issue before your nurse case manager attempts to, you’ll at least have the chance to give the doctor your perspective and emphasize the pains and limitations that you’re still experiencing. 

When you speak with your treating physician, mention each of the body parts that were injured. In many cases, an insurance adjuster will try to deny compensation for a body part that’s not mentioned in the first appointment and it’s useful to reiterate each of the injured body parts in the rest of your appointments. 

For instance, if you have a neck pain that’s so severe that it makes your shoulder pains seem unimportant, remember to mention both.  

This disability slip is also important if workers’ compensation insurance begins vocational rehabilitation with you because it outlines what your work restrictions are and the workers’ compensation insurer is obliged to stay within those restrictions.

Once you have these work restrictions, be sure that you keep all of your activities within those work restrictions. If you return to work and you are asked to perform activities that you believe is more than what your doctor has released you to do, then speak up. Tell your supervisor that you do not think that the work is within your work restrictions. If you have not returned to work, be sure that you are not doing anything at home that the doctor has not allowed. The chances are good that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has hired a private investigator to follow you to catch you in the act of doing something you are not supposed to be able to do. If you are not doing anything that “appears” wrong, then the workers’ compensation carrier cannot cut your check off.

If your employer continues to ask you to do things that are outside of your work restrictions or you have other questions about work restrictions, please call us for a no-obligation consultation to ask questions about how the claim will be handled and what obstacles you might encounter along the way.


About the Author:

The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.