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.
The 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)
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. 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.
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.
 Lopez v. Allied Aerofoam, 48 So. 3d 888 (Fla 1st DCA 2010).
 Florida v. Williams, 743 So. 2d 609 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999).