Most workers in Iowa have a baseline understanding of how workers’ compensation coverage functions. They know that they can ask for medical coverage and even disability pay if they get hurt at work or their doctor diagnoses them with a job-related medical condition.
However, many workers aren’t broadly aware of how applying for this process actually works and will, therefore, struggle to secure benefits and/or to understand the rules that determine what benefits they will ultimately receive.
One of the more confusing rules about workers’ compensation temporary disability pay in Iowa is the mandatory waiting period that is enforced before benefits start. Workers often don’t receive enough information about when they should expect to start receiving benefits and what this waiting period might mean for them financially.
How the waiting period works
Workers’ compensation benefits are a form of financial protection that dovetails with other workplace benefits, like paid time off (PTO) from work. Many injured or sickened workers who can return to work quickly will never receive any kind of disability pay. Instead, they may need to utilize their PTO benefits and will receive workers’ comp benefits to cover financial burdens stemming from work-related harm.
Typically, workers’ compensation disability benefits do not start until after the third day that a worker is unable to return to their job. There is a three-day waiting period for any kind of disability benefits to start accruing. If a worker only misses seven total days from work, they will receive disability benefits for four days in most cases.
However, when a worker has a long-term injury that results in a lengthy absence from work, they won’t lose those three days of wages. Once someone has gone 14 days or longer without returning to work, Iowa will waive the waiting period and compensate them even for those first three days of missed employment. There is no waiting period for medical coverage, which can apply right away or sometimes retroactively when a worker requires emergency care.
Educating yourself about Iowa workers’ compensation processes and considering the possibility that professional support could make a difference in re: the likelihood of receiving maximum compensation can be to your benefit if you have been recently injured on the job. Never forget that knowledge is power.