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Can workers’ compensation help with a pre-existing injury?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Many employees in Iowa feel uncertain about when they may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. They know that in general employees with conditions caused by their jobs can qualify. However, the average worker may have a relatively restrictive idea about what conditions qualify.

Frequently, people assume that there needs to be a particular precipitating incident to warrant a workers’ compensation claim in Iowa. They think that they need to experience a machinery malfunction or similar one-time incident that they then report to their employer to claim benefits.

While many workplace injuries do begin with some kind of obvious incident, other medical challenges related to employment develop very slowly and then worsen as time passes. In some cases, people may have even had a medical condition before they took their current position with an employer. Can workers’ compensation benefits ever help those dealing with a pre-existing medical condition?

Pre-existing conditions can qualify for benefits

Contrary to what many people believe, pre-existing conditions are often eligible for workers compensation coverage. What a worker needs to prove is different if their condition existed before their current employment arrangements.

Typically, they need proof that the job they currently perform caused their symptoms to recur or worsen. The more medical documentation someone has of their status when they started the job, the easier it may be to prove that their employment has exacerbated their health challenges.

There typically needs to be a direct connection between someone’s job responsibilities and their current symptoms for them to qualify for benefits. In some cases, the best-case scenario might involve convincing an employer to change someone’s job responsibilities or offer accommodations. That way, the worker can maintain their employment without their symptoms continuing to worsen.

Unfortunately, that approach is not always the most realistic. Workers in demanding professions may require medical support to address their symptoms. They may then have to make a difficult decision about changing their professions. Thankfully, permanent partial disability benefits can help someone whose functional abilities decrease because of a medical issue related to their work.

Even if a manager at a company tries to convince a worker that they aren’t eligible for benefits, they could very well potentially qualify for workers’ compensation. Discussing pre-existing medical issues and workers’ compensation rules with a skilled legal team can help employees consider their options.