When you are able to return to work, and have reached maximum medical rehabilitation (meaning you are as good as you are going to get) your claim will close. Sometimes it closes with an award of Permanent Partial Disability. This is an award for loss of function of your body.
When your claim closes, it is thought you are capable of obtaining and performing reasonably continuous gainful employment, and unless you intend to retire you should probably look for work after the claim is closed. If you do not look for work you may be considered voluntarily retired and not eligible for future time loss or pension benefits.
If your condition becomes objectively worse, you can reopen your claim. Objective worsening is something that can be seen, felt or measured. For example, if X-rays show your back condition has worsened, that will support reopening your claim. If there is crepitus or noise in your knee which was not present before, sometimes that will support reopening. If there are electronic nerve conduction tests that show your condition is worse, that will support reopening. Of course, muscle spasms can be felt and sometimes seen.
If you feel your condition has worsened, you should see your doctor about filing a Reopening Application. If they deny the reopening, you should consider hiring an attorney to help you overcome the Department’s order.
If your claim is reopened within seven years of the first closing date, you are automatically entitled to receive all benefits for which you qualify: medical treatment, time loss, etc. However, if your claim is reopened after seven years, you only automatically qualify for medical treatment. To receive any other benefits you have to request them from the Director of the Department who has discretion to grant or deny them.
Wayne Williams, Attorney at Law
Williams, Wyckoff & Ostrander, PLLC