Find the Answers to Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Disability Benefits Questions

Most people navigating the workers’ compensation and disability benefits application processes come to us with questions and confusion. Here, we share some of the questions that we answer most about the disability and workers’ compensation application and appeals processes. If you have a question for us, check out this page to see if we have answered this question for others! 

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  • Must I work light duty to qualify for salary continuance?

    No.  American Airlines flight attendants are not required to work light duty to qualify for salary continuance.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Are there situations in which I am entitled to receive salary continuation for more than 6 months?

    Yes.  The periods in which you are entitled to receive salary continuation is extended to 36 months if you suffer your injury because of an aircraft accident and your injury:

                1.         Requires hospitalization of more than 48 hours commencing within 7 days from the date that the injury occurred;

                2.         Results in a fracture of any bone except simple fractures of fingers, toes or nose;

                3.         Causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle or tendon damage;

                4.         Involves any internal organs; or

                5.         Includes second or third degree burns or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.  The term "aircraft accident" means "an occupational occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death wherein which the aircraft receives substantial damage."

    Your contract defines substantial damage in accordance with a definition provided by the National Transportation Safety Board.  According to the NTSB, substantial damage means "damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.  Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged, bent fairings or cowling, dented skin, small punctured holes in the skin or fabric, ground damage to rotor or propeller blades, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wing tips are not considered 'substantial damage.'"

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • I have not worked in many years. Can I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

    There are earnings requirements that must be met in order for someone to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  If you are 31 or older, you have to work five years out of the ten-year period ending with the quarter before your disability began.  If you become disabled under the age of 31, different rules apply.  

    Furthermore, to be eligible for benefits, you must have worked a total of 1.5-to-9.5 years during your lifetime.  The amount that you need to have worked under the “duration of work” test increases with age.  

  • Will a disability insurance company pay me benefits while I have a claim for other benefits pending?

    Usually insurance companies will do this, but you will have to re-pay the insurance company if you later receive benefits from another source and your disability policy gives the insurance company the right to take a credit for these other benefits.

  • What types of disability qualify me or my family to collect Social Security disability benefits?

    In general, to qualify for benefits, you must be suffering from a condition that renders you completely disabled from all substantial gainful employment for a year or be suffering from a disability that is expected to last more than a year or  result in death.  Certain family members of a disabled person are also entitled to receive benefits.  

  • May I use sick or vacation pay while I am out for my work injury?

    Yes.  If you check Section 27 of your American Airlines union contract, you are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits in accordance with individual state laws.  In Pennsylvania, you have to be disabled for 7 days or more to receive workers' compensation benefits.  To receive benefits for the first 7 days, you must be disabled for 2 weeks or more.  If your claim is denied, you use your accrued sick leave and scheduled vacation time.  If you receive retroactive payments of workers' compensation benefits, you are required to reimburse the company for sick leave and vacation pay and your sick leave and vacation banks will be credited. 

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Am I entitled to any benefits in addition to workers' compensation benefits?

    Yes.  The American Airlines APFA contract provides that you are entitled to receive salary continuation until you are released for duty for a period of up to six months.  To be eligible for salary continuation, you must select a physician from the preferred provider network unless your primary residence is more than 45 miles from the nearest preferred provider network provider.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • What state governs my entitlement to workers' compensation benefits?

    You may seek to recovery benefits in the state in which the injury occurred or the state where you are based.  It sometimes is not easy to figure out exactly where an injury occurred because so many injuries occur in flight. If you are a Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant, you may elect to receive benefits under Pennsylvania law. 

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • What if my injury or illness will prevent me from working for American Airlines for more than 21 days?

    Flight Attendants unable to report for duty for longer than 21 days are required to notify his or her Flight Service Manager and provide medical documentation.  This is generally not a problem for work injuries because your doctors must provide medical documentation to the insurance company concerning your injury or illness.  It is possible, however, that you may need to get copies of the medical notes themselves and provide them to your Flight Service Manager. If you expect to be disabled for an unknown duration, you need to notify Crew Schedule. 

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Am I entitled to short-term or long-term disability benefits through American Airlines?

    The American Airlines Flight Attendant Agreement provides that the company agrees to offer at your expense an optional short-term disability, long-term disability, or voluntary personal accident insurance plan. If you have not purchased this coverage, these benefits are not available.  Furthermore, the plan has a "coordination of benefits" clause that offsets workers' compensation benefits.  Accordingly, if you qualify for short-term or long-term disability benefits during a period that you are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits, the short-term and long-term disability benefits will be reduced by amount equal to your workers compensation wage loss benefits.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here