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Reducing Temporary Disability Costs with Early Intervention

incident intervention
  • Published
  • 27 November 2023
  • Category
  • General

There’s a high probability that an employee with an injury that results in a lost-time workers’ compensation claim will receive partial, total or temporary disability benefits.

In an analysis of claims with a 12-month maturity period, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) found that the average temporary disability (TD) duration was 94 days and median duration was 54 days. At the 25th percentile, one out of four claims had a duration of 18 days or less; at the 75th percentile, three in out of four claims had durations of 133 days or less.

Among other key findings, the NCCI reports:

  • Average TD duration increased with age, but the rate of increase declined after age 40
  • Construction and utility industry sectors had the longest average TD durations
  • At 123 days, shoulder injuries had the longest average TD duration among all injury types; refer to WorkCare’s fact sheet on
  • TD durations are subject to state statutes and ranged from an average of 71 days in Iowa to 149 days in Louisiana

For the study, duration was defined as the number of days TD benefits are paid. For example, a worker with a compensable injury could receive $50 per day for 100 days and $45 per day for 20 days, with a 20-day gap in between. In this illustration, the claim was active for 140 days, but the claimant received 120 days of TD benefits.

Workers’ compensation benefits typically cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and wages to replace lost income within prescribed parameters. Temporary disability benefit payments also help compensate for lost wages while an employee is recovering from an injury or illness. Total related costs partially depend on how an employer manages an absence, such as paying overtime to other employees, hiring a temporary replacement or accounting for a decline in productivity.

Reducing Temporary Disability Costs

Many work-related injuries are prevented or limited in severity with mindful occupational health and safety practices. However, given the range of exposure hazards that exist in all types of industries and the nature of human behavior, injuries still inevitably occur – some of them tragically resulting in permanent disabilities and fatalities.

At WorkCare, we believe that all employees should receive the best possible care. While some injury cases are severe, our experience shows that a significant percentage of non-emergency incidents can be safely managed at onset. An employee who reports an injury, receives immediate care guidance and voluntarily agrees to use first-aid remedies as recommended for the condition, usually does so before leaving work to visit a clinic.

Our 24/7 Incident Intervention telehealth triage team evaluates symptoms and provides care guidance based on best medical practices to ensure that injured workers receive the right care, at the right time, in the right setting and that their supervisors understand how to help facilitate recovery without crossing personal health boundaries. We use a similar approach at locations where we have clinicians such as occupational nurses, physicians and athletic trainers onsite.

When an Incident Intervention clinician refers an employee to a qualified local medical provider for further diagnosis and possible treatment, a WorkCare physician will follow-up to provide insights on contributing factors and suggestions for safe return to work that may be taken into consideration by the treating provider who is managing the case.

When an injured employee applies for and qualifies for a job-protected leave of absence for any reason, including a work-related injury or illness, WorkCare’s Absence Management Solutions team helps the employee, employer and other involved parties navigate the entire leave and absence management process. We have developed a dedicated information management system that supports seamless communication.

Contact us to learn more about the ways WorkCare’s injury prevention, early intervention, and absence management programs help improve employee health and business outcomes: