When you have had surgery for a work-related injury and are recovering from surgery and receiving workers’ compensation benefits, getting approval from your doctor to return to work can be a huge relief. It can mean that you are finally healing and getting back to normal. However, there are things you should keep in mind before returning to work.
Make sure you physically can return to work
Sometimes, doctors mistakenly clear patients to return to work after surgery because they believe being active can help in the healing process and that returning to work will aid your recovery.
However, if your doctor clears you too soon, you could reinjure yourself. In addition, it is likely to stop your workers’ compensation benefits. If you do not feel well, speak up and let your doctor know.
If your injury impacts your daily activities or you still have pain, communicate with your doctor before returning to work. Aches and pains could mean that you have not fully recovered yet and may need further medical care or recovery time.
Discuss work restrictions with your doctor
If your doctor releases you and you are ready to return to work, but your job requires you to do certain things that are more difficult to do or could risk reinjury post-surgery, talk with your doctor about whether they can release you with work restrictions.
Talk with your employer about what your doctor has indicated, share any necessary paperwork to support your request for work modifications, and make sure you have this conversation before you return to work.
If you return to work without restrictions and some of your job duties require you to do things that you were able to do before but now cause you pain or discomfort, you may have gone back to work too early, and you may not have healed enough from your surgery to resume your job duties.
Impact on workers’ compensation benefits
The bottom line is that if you file a workers’ compensation claim for a work-related injury and have surgery, you should take the necessary time to heal from that injury and be sure you are realistic about what you can and cannot do when returning to work.
Clear communication with your doctor and employer is critical, so ensure you are in regular contact with both to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace.
Workers’ compensation laws can be complicated, and you want to avoid making impulsive decisions about returning to work after surgery. Ensure that you are ready to return to work. If you cannot complete specific job duties that you did before, discuss that with your doctor before considering returning to work.