When Does Workers Comp Start Paying in Florida?
Under Florida’s laws, workers compensation provides two essential benefits: medical care and compensation for lost wages. The first kicks in immediately. When payments for lost wages begins, hinges on a variety of variables.
When it comes to compensating eligible workers injured or sickened on the job in the Sunshine State, Florida law is extensive, detailed, and absolutely specific: If your claim is approved, you will be compensated — for medical bills and lost wages — and the amount of that compensation will not be left up to your employer (or your employer’s insurance carrier).
This does not mean, however, there aren’t quite a few moving parts. Such as:
- Notifying your supervisor about your injury or onset of work-related illness in a timely fashion.
- Getting your claim properly filed.
- Preserving the evidence of your injury and the site of the incident (with photos on a smartphone).
- Identifying witnesses and recording their recollections.
- Jotting notes to yourself about the incident while your memory is fresh.
- Making certain your employer has workers compensation coverage, and that you qualify for compensation under the law.
- Consulting a Florida-based workers compensation lawyer to help guide you through the thicket.
The latter two bullet points hold the key to your best outcome. Consider: In May, a Tampa-based federal judge sentenced a finagling construction company owner to 21 months in prison and fined him $126,200 for his part in a wire-fraud conspiracy, which included failing to provide workers’ comp coverage.
Just because something is required by law doesn’t mean some people won’t try to get around it. Check and make sure your employer carries workers compensation insurance. Better to be sure than sorry.
The best news — under the circumstances — is that medical benefits begin the minute you get hurt. Banish from your mind any frets about the meter spinning wildly during the ambulance ride or your stay in the emergency room. You have problems, but paying for your care is not among them.
In Florida, everyone’s goal during those first critical minutes and hours is to make certain you get the medical treatment that puts you on the road to recovery; it’s the insurance company’s job to pay the bills. No copays, no deductibles, no squabbles, no nothing.
If your occupational injury or illness is going to keep you on the sidelines for a while, however, it’s fair to wonder how soon workers compensation will step in to bridge your paycheck shortfall.
Brace yourself: You may have to be just the tiniest big patient.
When Will You Get Your First Workers Comp Check?
Florida workers comp statutes include lots of numbers, and we’ll address them in a moment. But the bottom line is, qualifying workers injured/sickened on the job usually receive their first check within 21 days from the date they reported their injury/illness to their employer. (See why timely reporting is vital?)
Here are some that may add a headache to your occupational malady.
First, to qualify for wage compensation, your condition must render you unable to return to work at least for a given period, or so compromise your ability to work that you are unable to earn as much as you did previously.
Employees unable to return to work at all while they are recovering receive payments of two-thirds (66.6%) of their pre-injury average weekly earnings — with limits. From the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Workers’ Compensation:
[T]he maximum weekly compensation rate for work-related injuries and illnesses occurring on or after January 1, 2022, shall be $1,099.
In 2021, the weekly benefit in Florida maxed out at $1,011.
Employees who return to the workplace unable to match their previous compensation will receive a percentage of the gap between their current and pre-injury earnings.
Florida Workers Compensation Waiting Period
Workers compensation wage supports do not cover the first seven days after your injury/illness is reported — unless you are out of work for more than 21 days. Otherwise, wage-replacement earnings begin on the eighth day following your report.
In other words, if you’re occupationally injured or sickened and you’re idled for 20 or fewer days, your wage-replacement check covers the period from Day 8 until the day you return to work. Only if you are out 21 or more days will wage-replacement payments cover you from Day 1.
How Often Does Workers Comp Pay in Florida?
Following the arrival of your first workers comp payment, expect subsequent payments every two weeks as long as you remain eligible for benefits. Which leads us to …
How Long Will Workers Comp Continue to Pay in Florida?
How long workers comp continues to pay wage compensation pivots on the type and degree of disability.
- Temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, or a combination of the two, pay throughout the period you are disabled (or achieve maximum medical improvement), up to 104 weeks.
- When your medical treatment is complete (but no later than six weeks before your TTD or TPD benefits are scheduled to expire), your physician will evaluate you for any enduring medical impairments connected to your injury/illness. Florida law applies a formula for calculating the length of permanent impairment benefits.
- In some cases, doctors determine workers comp claimants have a permanent disability that prevents them from performing any sort of work. These workers receive permanent total disability benefits that continue until the age of 75 (or for life, if the beneficiary does not qualify for Social Security).
» More on: How Long Workers Comp Lasts in Florida
As noted above: lots of moving parts. Your employer and its insurance carrier will be represented by experts in how the gears mesh in Florida workers compensation law. You may want to consider leveling the playing field by finding a workers compensation attorney to represent you.
- N.A. (2022, May 2) Tampa Man Sentenced For Role In Construction-Related Wire Fraud Conspiracy. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/tampa-man-sentenced-role-construction-related-wire-fraud-conspiracy
- N.A. (ND) Injured Worker Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/employee/faq.htm
- N.A. (ND) Lost Wages and Other Monetary Compensation. Retrieved from https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/employee/benefits/lost-wages.htm
- Gagne, R. (2021, November 30) Maximum Workers’ Compensation Rate, Effective January 1, 2022. Retrieved from