Can workers’ compensation help cover pre-existing conditions?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Workers’ compensation coverage is a requirement for most New Jersey employers. Workers shouldn’t have to worry about medical costs if they get hurt on the job or develop a medical condition related to their job tasks.

Workers’ compensation coverage can help pay for treatments and can also replace lost wages when a work-related medical issue forces someone to take time away from their job. Someone who breaks a bone when they fall or who receives a new diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome after years of administrative work may recognize that they could qualify for benefits for their work-related conditions. Other workers may feel less certain about their eligibility.

Employees may have already had certain medical conditions before they accepted their jobs. Can workers’ compensation help cover lost wages and medical costs related to pre-existing conditions?

Some pre-existing conditions may qualify for coverage

If someone already had a health issue before beginning a job, then simply continuing to have that condition while working for a new employer does not make it a workers’ compensation matter. If someone’s symptoms are static or stable, then they are likely ineligible for benefits because the condition is not a result of their employment.

However, if someone had suppressed their symptoms or improved their condition, only to find that their job worsens their symptoms, then they might be eligible for benefits. New Jersey recognizes that jobs can exacerbate or aggravate pre-existing conditions. Provided that someone has medical documentation validating their claim that their position worsened their symptoms, someone with a pre-existing condition could potentially qualify for benefits.

Medical coverage could help them get their symptoms back under control. Disability benefits could help them take the time off they need to let their bodies recover. Communication with an employer could also lead to accommodations that could prevent a job from continuing to affect someone’s pre-existing condition.

Understanding when workers’ compensation benefits might be available can help workers defray the setbacks they experience because of work-related health challenges. Seeking benefits based on the exacerbation or aggravation of a prior diagnosis is sometimes an option for a worker struggling with painful symptoms.  Pre-existing conditions are among the many medical challenges that might lead to workers’ compensation claims.