Sometimes it is in your best interest to settle your workers’ compensation claim. A settlement is an agreement between the injured worker, the employer and the BWC to close the claim for a final payout of money. No further benefits can be paid under the claim, and the money that the injured worker receives in his settlement is his to spend however he sees fit.
If you do not need a lot more treatment for an injury, you might consider settling your workers’ compensation claim. But if you still do need treatment or if you are unsure what treatment you will need in the future or how much it might cost you a settlement might be too risky to accept because it is final. If you settle your claim and then need a major surgery years later, or develop another condition from the injury after the settlement, you cannot reopen the claim.
Traditionally, the BWC would only settle if you were willing to settle the entire claim, closing out future disability payments and medical benefits. With no option to leave the medical open on a claim, many injured workers could not consider settlements that otherwise would have been a good way to wrap up their claims.
Recently, however, the BWC has announced that it will consider settling workers’ compensation claims for disability payments only, leaving the claims open to continue to cover medical bills. This new policy will make it possible for many more injured workers to settle their claims when it is in their best interest to do so.
Not only will this keep the claim open for future, and perhaps unexpected, medical treatment, but it also allows you to avoid complications with Medicare when you settle a workers’ compensation claim. Medicare regulations require you to obtain approval of a set aside amount as part of your settlement agreement to pay for future medical costs if you are settling your whole workers’ compensation claim. This regulation adds additional steps for approval that add months on to the final settlement of your claim, and, in some cases, make settlement impossible in the end. If you can settle your workers’ compensation claim and leave it open for medical treatment in the future, Medicare’s rules do not apply, and you do not need Medicare approval for your settlement.
We have argued for this change for several years now and are excited that the BWC has finally realized that partial settlements can be good for all parties. This new settlement option will allow injured workers to make fair settlements of their claims without worrying about future unexpected medical costs.