When you’re trying to recover from a serious work injury, the last thing you want to receive in the mail is a “Notice of Intention to Discontinue Workers’ Compensation Benefits,” or NOID.
Essentially, this is a letter telling you that your benefits are about to either be reduced or — more likely — outright stopped. Not only are your actual checks likely slated to halt so are your medical benefits for your injury.
Why is this happening to you?
There are a few different reasons you can end up with a NOID. Unless you’re back to work and fully recovered, however, the odds are high that you’ve recently been through an independent medical exam (IME) with a company-hired physician.
IMEs are not really as “independent” as they’re made out to be since most of those physicians make a substantial part of their income doing these kinds of exams — and wouldn’t stay in business very long if they sided with the injured workers too often! The IME may have determined — based on your brief office visit — that you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement or simply have recovered enough from your injuries to no longer need work restrictions.
What can you do about this?
If you and your doctor are at odds with the IME’s conclusions, you have options. However, you do need to act quickly:
- Read your notice carefully and take stock of why your benefits are being terminated. A medical report or other evidence should be included in the letter.
- Note that you only have 12 days from the date of the notice to ask for a conference.
You do have the right to have an attorney help you when you attend the conference — which may help you retain your workers’ comp benefits as you wait for a hearing. An attorney can guide you as you prepare your testimony and help you better understand the challenges you face, as well as present information at the conference that shows your side of the case.