One of the hardest parts of getting hurt on the job is often needing to take time off from the job. In order to fully recover from a workplace injury, you may need several weeks or months for the affected body parts to heal.

As hard as it can be for you to go without work, it can be quite expensive for your employer’s insurance company to pay the short-term disability benefits that allow you to make ends meet during your convalescence.

If the insurance company has started to pressure you to return to work, you may feel like doing so sooner rather than later is a good decision. How do you determine if you are ready to get back on the job after a major workplace injury left you temporarily unable to work?

A doctor should be the one to make this critical decision

The unpleasant truth about a workers’ compensation injury is that neither you nor the insurance company is the best qualified party to determine when it’s time for you to get back on the job. The physician overseeing your care is the one who understands if you have healed well enough to resume your previous job responsibilities.

If you desperately want to get back to work, it may be possible for your physician to evaluate your condition and determine what limitations you currently have if you aren’t yet fully healed. Modified job responsibilities or lighter labor might allow you to return to work if your employer can accommodate certain restrictions on your work.

Don’t try to force yourself just because temporary benefits may run out

Temporary disability benefits through workers’ compensation are not meant to last forever. They are only meant to cover costs until an employee heals enough to get back to work. If you have received notice that you are nearing the end of the term where you can receive temporary disability, it may be time to explore whether permanent disability benefits are necessary.

Permanent partial disability benefits can cover a portion of your wages if you can return to different work than you used to perform for lower pay than you used to command. Permanent total disability benefits may be necessary if you truly can’t perform certain work right now and aren’t going to be able to do so in the immediate future. Knowing all of your options and rights can help you avoid making a mistake that leads to an end of your benefits or a worse medical issue.