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When Does Workers' Compensation Start Paying? State-by-State Guide

Posted by James Aspell | Apr 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

Photo showing Office of Hartford Workers Compensation Court

Navigating the intricacies of workers' compensation can often feel like a labyrinth, especially when it comes to understanding when benefits will begin. Whether you've suffered an injury on the job or are dealing with an illness as a result of your work environment, the pressing question on your mind is likely, "When will workers' comp start paying?" The answer varies significantly from state to state, influenced by a multitude of factors including state laws, the severity of the injury, and the specific policies of the insurance provider. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, providing you with a detailed overview of what to expect in terms of timing for workers' compensation benefits across different states.

Understanding Workers' Compensation: A Primer

Before delving into the specifics of when payments commence, it's crucial to have a foundational understanding of workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. In exchange for these benefits, employees forfeit the right to sue their employer for negligence. This system is designed to protect both the employer and the employee, ensuring that workers receive timely assistance without the need for lengthy legal battles.

The Claim Process: What to Expect

Immediate Steps Post-Injury

Immediately after an injury occurs, it is imperative to report the incident to your employer. The timeline for reporting varies by state, but it generally ranges from a few days to as much as two years. Prompt reporting is not only a legal requirement but also crucial for a successful claim.

Seeking Medical Attention

Seeking medical attention should be your next step. Not only is this important for your health, but medical records serve as crucial evidence for your workers' compensation claim. The choice of healthcare provider can be dictated by state laws or employer policies, so it's important to understand these rules beforehand.

Filing the Claim

Once the injury is reported and you've received medical attention, the next step is to file a workers' compensation claim. This is usually done through forms provided by your employer or directly through the workers' compensation insurance carrier. The deadline for filing a claim varies by state, ranging from one to three years post-injury.

When Will Payments Start? A State-by-State Overview

The commencement of workers' compensation payments is subject to state-specific regulations. While some states have waiting periods of just a few days, others may require several weeks before benefits begin. Generally, there are two types of benefits: temporary disability and medical payments. Temporary disability payments are meant to compensate for lost wages, whereas medical payments cover the cost of medical care related to the injury.

Waiting Periods Across the States

Most states enforce a waiting period before temporary disability payments start. This period can range from three to seven days. If the disability extends beyond a certain period, often ranging from one to two weeks, the benefits may be retroactive to the date of injury.

Variations in Payment Start Dates

Furthermore, the speed with which medical payments begin can vary significantly. In many cases, medical expenses are covered from the first day post-injury, ensuring that the injured worker is not burdened by medical bills during their recovery.

Case Studies: Payment Timelines in Select States

To provide a clearer picture, let's examine the timelines in a few key states:

  • California: Workers in California can expect a waiting period of three days before temporary disability benefits kick in. If the disability lasts more than 14 days, payments are retroactive to the day after the injury occurred.

  • New York: New York enforces a seven-day waiting period for temporary disability payments. These benefits become retroactive if the disability exceeds 14 days.

  • Texas: Texas also has a seven-day waiting period, with payments retroactive to the first day if the disability lasts more than 14 days.

  • Connecticut:  Connecticut has a three-day waiting period before temporary total disability benefits under CGS Section 31-307 commence

These examples illustrate the variability in workers' compensation laws and underscore the importance of understanding your state's specific regulations.

Maximizing Your Workers' Compensation Benefits

Documentation and Advocacy

The key to maximizing your benefits lies in thorough documentation and, if necessary, legal advocacy. Keep detailed records of your injury, medical treatment, and any communication with your employer or their insurance carrier. Consider consulting with a workers' compensation attorney if you encounter challenges during the claim process.

Understanding Your Rights

Equally important is a comprehensive understanding of your rights under your state's workers' compensation laws. This knowledge can empower you to advocate for yourself and ensure you receive the full spectrum of benefits to which you are entitled.


The question of when workers' compensation will start paying is nuanced, with answers varying widely across states. By following the proper steps post-injury, understanding your state's specific laws, and advocating for your rights, you can navigate the workers' compensation system more effectively. Remember, the goal of workers' compensation is to support you during recovery, enabling a return to work

About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...


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