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Who is Eligible to Collect Workers’ Compensation in Iowa?


Iowa’s workers’ compensation system exists in order to provide benefits to certain employees who become injured or ill in the course of their employment. Under Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Act this compensation is available for nearly all Iowa employees who sustain a work-related injury or illness, however, it is important to note that some employees in Iowa are exempt (i.e. not covered) by our state’s workers’ compensation laws and therefore are ineligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. For example, the following employees are exempt:

  • Domestic employees who earned less than $1,500 over the last year from their employer,
  • Agricultural employees working for an employer who had a payroll of less than $2,500 over the last year,
  • Firefighters and police officers entitled to certain pension fund benefits, and
  • Employees who are members of an LLC (limited liability company).

Eligibility Requirements 

Non-exempt employees (i.e. those who are covered by Iowa’s workers’ compensation system) are generally eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa if they meet each of the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Suffer from a Qualifying Injury or Illness: Under Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Act the term “injury” is very broadly defined. Apart from the normal building up and breaking down of body tissue, a qualifying injury can be any health impairment that an employee suffers from as a result of their employment. This includes diseases that were contracted as a result of something that the employee was exposed to in the course of their work, however preexisting injuries or diseases do not qualify unless the condition is worsened or aggravated by the employment.
  1. Provide Notice in a Timely Manner: An injured or sick employee who wishes to file a workers’ compensation claim is required to notify their employer of their injury or illness within 90 days of its occurrence. Please note that this 90 day clock starts to run when the employee knew, or should have known, of their injury. Therefore, an employee who contracts a slow developing disease (such as mesothelioma) will have 90 from the date on which he/she knew or should have known that they contracted the disease (not the date on which they actually contracted the disease) within which to provide notice to their employer.
  1. File Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires: Under the applicable statute of limitations (contained in section 85.26 of the Iowa Code) injured employees are generally afforded two years from the date on which their injury occurred to file a workers’ compensation claim. An injured employee may be in violation of this statute of limitations, and consequently denied workers’ compensation benefits, if they did not receive workers’ compensation benefits or file an application for arbitration within the permitted time frame.

Let Us Help You with Your Case 

Determining eligibility in workers’ compensation cases is not always an easy task and insurance companies routinely deny workers’ compensation claims that have merit. If you’ve submitted a workers’ compensation claim in Iowa don’t mistakenly assume that you are ineligible to collect benefits simply because you receive a preliminary denial! Instead, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys of the Noyes Law Office P.C. to discuss your legal options. One of our lawyers would be happy to meet with you during a free initial consultation so give our Fairfield office a call today at (641) 472-3236.

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Our Southeast Iowa personal injury, workers compensation and bankruptcy attorneys serve clients in Fairfield, Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa City, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, Fort Madison, Muscatine, Keosauqua, Birmingham, Centerville, Bloomfield, Keokuk, Sigourney, Richland, Burlington, Washington & Columbus Junction.

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