female workers making sport shoe in footwear production lineWorkers' Disability Compensation Act

Workers' disability compensation is an employee benefit that has been available to Michigan workers since 1912. Compensation is provided for employees who can demonstrate their disability or death is as a result of a work-related injury or disease. Benefits are paid by the employers (either directly or through their insurance company).

These benefits are separate from unemployment compensation, hospital, health or accident insurance. The Department of Labor & Regulatory Affairs, Workers' Compensation Agency provides oversight for workers' disability compensation programs.

Private employers in Michigan who employ three or more workers at one time; or have regularly employed at least one worker for 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer during the last 52 weeks must have workers' disability compensation coverage, either as a self-insured or through an insurance company.

Employee Rights

Employees have rights under the Michigan disability compensation laws:

  • Employees who have not returned to work but retain the ability to perform employment paying less than what they earned before their injury may also be entitled to continuing partial benefits.
  • Wage loss benefits for the period of the disability, commencing on the 8th day after the injury, if the disability lasts more than one week. If the disability lasts greater than two weeks, then payment is owed from the date of injury. Specific amounts of compensation will depend on the date and type of injury. Even if an employee returns to work, the employee may be entitled to continued partial wage loss benefits if the job to which they return after injury pays less than they were making before the injury.
  • Medical care and treatment, commencing immediately.
  • Vocational rehabilitation, which may include job counseling, guidance, specialized job placement or retraining.
  • Death benefits: if an employee dies as a result of an injury or work-related disease, the employer is responsible for payment of the reasonable expenses of the employee's last sickness, funeral and burial. Funeral and burial expenses are limited at $6,000 or the actual cost.
  • Death benefits are payable to the dependents of a deceased employee who died because of a work-related injury or disease.

Hearing/Mediation/Arbitration

If you disagree with any decision of your employer or the insurance company, you may file an application for hearing before a magistrate at the Workers' Compensation Agency. You may request an application for hearing form from the Workers' Compensation Agency. Depending on the kind of dispute involved, you may be entitled to mediation or if your claim is for less than $2,000, your case may be heard in the small claims division of the Board of Magistrates.

Wage loss benefits are based on the employee's average weekly wages at the time of injury and the number of dependents the employee has. Benefits are determined in accordance with a formula in the statute, and a schedule of the maximum benefits that an employee can receive is published annually. There is no minimum amount of benefits for general disability claims. Medical benefits are paid in accordance with a fee schedule adopted as part of the administrative rules for the Workers' Compensation Agency.

Employee Responsibilities

Employees have responsibilities under the Act as well.

  • An employee must report details of work-related accidents or diseases promptly to the employer, supervisor or other person in charge. Failure to give notice of an accident or injury within three months may result in a loss of rights to compensation.
  • An employee must submit to reasonable and periodic medical examinations if required by the employer or insurance company.
  • An employee must cooperate with reasonable rehabilitation efforts directed toward assisting the employee to return to appropriate competitive employment.
  • Employees who retain the ability to work after their injury are required by the Act to make a good faith effort to search for available work within their qualifications, training and medical restrictions, or attempt to perform reasonable employment offered by their previous employer, another employer, or the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Failure to make a good faith effort to search for work or attempt reasonable employment could adversely impact the employee's rights to continued benefits.
  • If an employee is receiving old age Social Security benefits, pension or retirement benefits, or benefits under a wage continuation program, self-insurance program or disability insurance policy paid for by the employer, or unemployment benefits, the employee must report the amounts received as there will be a coordination of these benefits against any wage loss benefits received from the same employer.

To determine if an employer is insured for workers' disability compensation, you can search the records on the Workers' Compensation Agency website to find that information. If your search does not reveal insurance coverage, follow the instructions provided on the Agency's website to file a complaint. You may also call the Workers' Compensation Agency at 888-396-5041 or 517-322-1195.

This Department does not represent employees in workers compensation disputes, however employees have the right to retain an attorney or represent themselves in all contested worker's compensation claims.