What Maritime Disability Benefits Are Available?
Maritime workers who suffer from a disability after an on-the-job injury or illness are fully protected under the law. It can be confusing to figure out how much compensation you can receive, how long you can receive it, and what your first steps should be. In some cases, disability benefits may be paid by or administered by your employer, and in other cases a disabled offshore worker may need to file his or her own claim to obtain the appropriate benefits. Regardless, it is important that you work with a seasoned offshore injury attorney who can look out for your best interests and who has experience with maritime disability claims.
Disability Benefits Available to Offshore Workers
Social Security Disability: Social Security pays benefits to individuals who have suffered a medical condition that is expected to either keep him or her from work for at least a year or result in death. To recover these benefits, you must pass a "recent work" test based upon your age and a "duration of work" test to show you've worked long enough under Social Security to qualify.
Disability Under ERISA: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a federal law governing employee benefits in the private sector; it provides uniformity and several safeguards to policyholders of employer-sponsored health insurance. In many cases, the insurance plans offered by private employers offer short-term and long-term disability benefits, which provide coverage for up to 60 percent of pre-disability income. Short-term disability (STD) coverage typically lasts for 6 months while long-term disability (LTD) coverage generally commences after STD expires, and can continue either for a set contractual duration or as long as the disabling condition remains.
Disability Under a Private Insurance Policy: In some cases, an individual may choose to purchase a private insurance policy with disability benefits as a precautionary step. While the specifics of the benefits you can recover will depend upon your policy's terms, standard plans will help cover anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of your taxable income. Short-term coverage typically covers you for 60 to 90 days while long-term disability insurance can extend from five years to a lifetime.
Longshore Benefits: Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), qualified employees can recover disability compensation for temporary, permanent, total, and partial disabilities. Available compensation varies by the classification of disability. For example, an individual with a temporary total disability (TTD) can receive compensation at two-thirds of their Average Weekly Wage (AWW), while an individual with a temporary partial disability (TPD) receives compensation at two-thirds of their loss of earning capacity.
Maintenance & Cure Benefits Available Under General Maritime Law: Under maritime law, injured seamen can recover maintenance benefits between $15 and $30 per day to cover the cost of food and shelter while not aboard the vessel. Cure benefits are also paid, and cover all reasonable medical expenses related to the injury. Cure is paid up until a seaman reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which is the point at which a medical provider determines that their condition can no longer improve.
Because there are so many types of benefits available, it is important to work with a knowledgeable attorney to review applications, payments, and more. Disability payments can affect the overall financial outcome of your case, and you need an experienced lawyer to help navigate their application to your workplace injury.
Want to know more about maritime disability benefits? Contact Arnold & Itkin today!