Diagnosis and Medical Expenses

9. What about my medical and hospital expenses while I'm disabled from an occupational disease?

The law requires the employer to provide and pay for all medical, hospital or other types of treatment needed due to the nature of the occupational disease. However, treatment must be supplied by health care providers authorized to treat people receiving workers' compensation. The Workers' Compensation Board maintains a list of health care providers authorized to treat workers suffering from occupational illnesses. Prior authorization from your employer, its insurance carrier or the Board, may be necessary for more expensive treatment or procedures. Workers are not required, and their doctors cannot force them, to pay for these medical expenses themselves. Workers who have paid for such services or are being pressed for payment by a doctor or collection agency, should immediately contact the Medical Registration Bureau of the Workers' Compensation Board.

10. What if I use my sick leave while waiting for my compensation claim to be decided? Am I entitled to get the leave restored to me once the claim is granted?

There is nothing in the present law that expressly entitles workers to have their used sick leave restored by the employer. But, the employer can request reimbursement out of the compensation award for at least a portion of the wages paid to a disabled worker on sick leave while a claim was pending. Workers should alert the Board at the time of their hearing that they have used sick leave and should ask the Board to reimburse their employers only if the used sick leave is restored to the worker.

11. How can I find out if my condition is caused by exposure to a toxic substance on the job?

Under State and Federal law, the employee, the employee's doctor, or a union representative may obtain written information about toxic substances found in an employee's workplace, including information concerning the known and suspected health hazards of those substances. The New York State "Right to Know Law" covers all public employees in New York State, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act covers all persons employed by private companies. Workers might also want to contact the occupational disease diagnostic centers near them for a diagnosis and any available information on the possible work-related causes of their conditions.

12. If I have been exposed to a toxic substance, but have not yet contracted an occupational disease, is compensation available to cover my present expenses for medical tests to see if I am developing a disease?

Under the present law, a worker must actually contract an occupational disease before becoming entitled to payments for such medical monitoring. Unionized workers should consult a union representative to determine whether their collective bargaining agreement (contract) provides such benefits.

13. I have an illness due to my work, but the condition is not disabling and I can continue to perform my duties. Do I have to wait until I am disabled and unable to work in order to claim workers' compensation benefits? Can I at least be reimbursed for my medical expenses?

A claim should be filed whenever you become aware that an illness or condition has been caused by an exposure attributable to your job duties. Even if you are still able to work, your medical expenses will be paid. When you are no longer able to work you will receive workers compensation benefits.

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