Are work restriction notes important in Pennsylvania Workers Compensation?

Work restriction notes from the treating doctor are important to a workers’ compensation case. This can be confusing when an injured worker is out of work or has been terminated from employment. Why would I need a work restriction note if I am not working?

Why is a work restriction note important?

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, work restriction notes are critical to wage loss entitlement. First, an employer has a right to accommodate work restrictions. If the employer has a light duty job available, has offered the light duty job in writing to you, and the light duty job offer is within the treating doctor’s restrictions, then the burden shifts to you to make a good faith effort to perform the light duty job. Ignoring a light duty job offer within the treating doctors’ restrictions can lead to a suspension of wage loss benefits and job termination.

Second, if the treating doctor has completely disabled you from returning to work in any capacity, that restriction note is important in proving eligibility for wage loss benefits.

Third, to prove eligibility for wage loss benefits, we must be able to show that the employer is not accommodating light duty or that you are completely disabled from returning to work.

When should you get a work restrictions note?

You should get a work restrictions note from your treating doctor at EVERY visit. You should always have an updated work restriction note. Some treating doctors forget to provide current work restrictions. At each visit with your doctor, you should inquire about work restrictions and ask for a copy of those restrictions. It does not matter that you aren’t currently working. There has to be a work restriction note advising that you cannot work or can only work within certain restrictions.

What should be done with the work restriction note?

Two things should be done with the work restriction note. First, you should provide a copy of the restriction note to the employer. Remember, the employer has a right to accommodate light duty restrictions. Second, you forward a copy of the restriction note to our law firm so we have a record of the note.

Must I return to work if I receive a Notice of Ability to return to work?

No. You can read more about the Notice of Ability to Return to Work right here.

Finally, must I return to a light duty job based on the doctor the employer chose for an independent medical examination?

No. If you receive a job offer, either light duty or full duty, based on a work release by the company doctor (from the Independent Medical Examination), that does not mean you have to return to work. If your treating doctor does not believe you can return to work or your doctor has you on more restrictive restrictions than the IME doctor, then you have the right to refuse to return to work.
Your refusal will likely lead to your employer filing a Termination or Suspension Petition that seeks to stop your benefits. However, that does not mean your benefits will stop. You have a right to have a Workers’ Compensation Judge review the petition and make a decision. Mooney Law will be ready to litigate that petition to keep your benefits. If you get a Suspension or termination Petition filed against you, contact Mooney Law right away for a FREE consultation. Your benefits are being threatened.  Call Mooney Law today for a FREE workers’ compensation consultation at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656.  You can also contact us through our website at

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.