[Tripping On…] Workers’s Compensation Claims

My spine started hurting in early April, I went on medical leave in late April, but it wasn’t until my insurance company told me in late August that they wanted me to fill out workers’s compensation claim before they would cover any of my incoming bills that I felt like I could fill out a claim. I was the product of a work culture that implied that filling out a claim was a pain; false.

First, the context on why I filled out the claim:

For months before April, I had been getting headaches, as I covered in Part 1 of this essay series. We figured out that this was caused by an improperly configured ergonomic sit/stand desk. Although the headaches stopped, I don’t think my body recovered, since when we were all sent home due to COVID, I worked at a work-from-home desk that was not ergonomically suitable for me, which caused my spine to get to where it was, requiring surgery.

I filled out the workers’s compensation claim through the state.

It was rejected because my employer has their own workers’s compensation insurance, so that would seem like a waste of time, right? Thirty minutes wasted? Well, since I filled out the claim and gave my manager the state’s claim number, this put it on the books, so that when it came time for filling out the employer version of this claim, almost all of the claim was filled out. I only needed to edit some additional information, like my height and weight, sign, date it, and return it to my manager for him to submit.

I would say, then, that it’s important to fill things out as soon as you can.

I did not fill it out sooner because my insurance company was not helpful with me in providing this information. It only took until I started receiving multiple bills averaging a few hundred dollars that I asked them about this. Each time I called and spoke to a different rep, because the representative in charge of my case was rude enough for me not to want to deal with at all, I got a different version of the truth. I suppose this is the insurance company’s way of making it as difficult as possible for me to get paid what they should be paying, but they justify it under the notions of me having exhausted all other resources for compensation routes. One would think that they would be willing to help me through this process, but I don’t think that’s quite the case.

I submitted almost all of my forms to the insurance company.

I did not submit the decision of my employer’s workers’s compensation claim, because my manager just sent that out yesterday afternoon, but I figure they’ll either reach out to my insurance, or I can upload the documents a second time so they can review everything once I get their decision. If it’s a denial, the insurance company will pay for everything. If it’s an approval, my employer’s workers’s compensation company will pay for everything. Either way, for a situation like mine where it’s not quite clear, it’s better to ask the questions as soon as possible, before those bills start getting sent along to you for a few hundred dollars here, a few hundred dollars there, a thousand-plus here, and all the while you feeling like a victim for receiving these harassing bills so you might feel like you need to pay, even though you have insurance.

This advice is for those who have felt like they haven’t been able to file a claim.

Not for scammers or anything like that, but if you’ve experienced a situation like mine where it’s either debatable or seems like it could be related to workers’s compensation, go ahead and file the claim. The website for my state timed me out after some twenty minutes of “inactivity” but it still kept my progress in filling out the form, so other than collecting the relevant information on doctors you’ve seen, what you’ve done, and what happened, it’s not a terrible process. I was being humble in not filling out the claim because I wasn’t sure if it was related or not to workers’s compensation, and, I figured they were busy.

Their busy status is no excuse to disregard your health or healthcare.

Even if your manager is somewhat passive-aggressive or rude, this goes beyond your manager, especially if you file the claim through the state and get the reference number. If you’re at all bullied for that, then that becomes disciplinary action against your manager by their manager, so there is no reason not to fill out the claim. The only thing I would offer for advice in this general situation is that you would need to get a doctor to approve that your situation was caused by a working environment. Mine was caused by working. Even though I wasn’t physically at my office, I was working from home, so that was my working environment. I hadn’t anticipated I’d need to work from home, and the work I do is both different and more rigorous than casually writing essays at this writing desk, so I needed more exacting ergonomic configurations.

I don’t own anything like that and COVID locked everything down that I could order.

So although this claim is still currently open, I wanted to write about this at this stage in the process to say that regardless of your situation, if you have a legitimate workers’s compensation claim to file, don’t let you boss or anyone else influence your decision to file the claim or not. If they deny you, you’ll get a letter from the state with the reason why, and that letter is important protection to you, as the employee, against the employer/manager that might try to downplay your situation. Dealing with health problems is stressful enough.

If I’d known half of this information, it would have been much easier for me months ago.

Endtable
Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: Just providing information to help others.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 September 10 [9:28am to 9:52am]
Last Edited: 2020 September 10 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]

 

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.