If your Oregon Workers' Compensation claim has been denied, you have a right to appeal the decision. However, there similar options available to get you through the wait for a hearing, and a Judge's decision.
1. Requesting Hearing
If you receive a written denial, it must provide you an explanation of your appeal rights. You have sixty days from the date on the denial letter to request a hearing with the Workers' Compensation Board. The request must be in writing. This is the first step, and the most important.
2. Documenting Disability
Battling a denied Oregon Workers' Compensation claim can take several months, even more than a couple years. During the time you were fighting the denial, you should document any ongoing inability to perform your job duties due to the on-the-job injury. This will better your chances of recovering temporary total disability benefits should you finally prevail on the claim. In some cases, the Workers' Compensation Board will acknowledge an "open ended" authorization to be off work from your physician. However, it is a better idea to get periodic notes from the doctor authorizing you to be off work. If you are only released for light duty work, document that as well.
3. Unemployment Insurance
Part of your wage withholdings include payment for unemployment insurance. If you are still able to perform some kinds of work, but your employer does not have any work available within your limitations, your employer may lay you off or discharge you from employment. Contact your local Employment Department office to see if you qualify for unemployment insurance benefits.
4. Vocational Rehabilitation
We have had catastrophic we injured clients contact the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Department to inquire about vocational retraining benefits. In certain cases, this Oregon agency may provide benefits to help you find work that you can do within your physical limitations. If you do complete a vocational program, you may render yourself and eligible for the Workers' Compensation sponsored vocational benefit, but you are that much closer to getting back on the job.
Another option is to get in touch with your local Community College to see if you qualify for any grants or other financial aid in an effort to train for work within your limitations.
5. Social Security Disability
If you feel that you are not able to return to any type of work as result of your on-the-job injury, you should consider applying for disability with the Social Security Administration. This benefit requires a showing of disability from occupations, depending upon your age, and that your disability has lasted or is expected to last for one year.
6. Expedited Hearing Requests
If you have no other income in your household after your claim has been denied, you may be able to request an expedited hearing due to a financial hardship. There are similar rules allowing for an expedited hearing where you have a critical need for medical care.
If you have questions about a denied Oregon Workers' Compensation claim, call us at 503-325-8600. We work with injured workers every day.