A work injury can impact many facets of an employee’s life: ability to work, routine daily tasks, relationships with friends/family, and a reduction in income. Temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits are roughly two-thirds of the gross wages an employee was earning prior to the accident. This reduction in income, particularly for one income households, creates a financial hole which may be difficult to overcome. There are situations following a Florida workers’ compensation accident where a claimant may need additional financial assistance to fund various items: medical treatment (such as an independent medical exam), past-due bills, or other financial needs arising from workplace injuries. One option available to an injured worker is to seek a cash advance on future benefits from the insurance company. If the carrier will not voluntarily agree to issue a cash advance to the injured worker, a Judge of Compensation Claims has the authority to order a carrier to advance a payment to a claimant. While there are situations where a claimant can request an advance beyond $2,000, this article will address requests of $2,000 or less.

florida-workers-compensation-motion-hearingThe Judge of Compensation Claims may order the advanced payment upon showing the claimant has suffered either a substantial loss of earning capacity or a physical impairment. For consideration of requests for advances up to $2000, a JCC must perform a two-step inquiry:

First, the JCC must determine whether the claimant falls into one of the three specified statutory categories:

(1) claimants who have not “returned to the same or equivalent employment with no substantial reduction in wages”;

(2) claimants who have “suffered a substantial loss of earning capacity”; or

(3) claimants who have suffered a “physical impairment. § 440.20(12)(c)(2)[1]

Second, a JCC must determine that the claimant (a) is a proper claimant and (b) has provided adequate justification for his or her request.

A claimant requesting an advance of $2,000 or less does not have to demonstrate he or she will achieve a permanent disability status, or that there will be a source of future benefits to repay the advanced monies.[2] However, the claimant must show there is a nexus between the need for the advance and the workers’ compensation injury. The need must be tethered to a justifiable medical or other need arising from and related to the workers’ compensation claim.[3]

If you have questions regarding cash advances in Florida workers’ compensation claims, or any other Tampa workers comp matter, please contact our office for a free consultation. Our office has represented injured workers in Florida since 1989.

[1] Lopez v. Allied Aerofoam, 48 So. 3d 888 (Fla 1st DCA 2010).

[2] Florida v. Williams, 743 So. 2d 609 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999).