A claimant may receive weekly income benefits, when an insurer voluntarily commences payment of benefits or when the Board orders payment benefits. Due to the financial pressures many claimants experience when they are unable to work or have suffered a loss in earning capacity due to their work-related injury, claimants often inquire as to how their weekly income benefits are paid.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-221(a) states that income benefits shall be paid in the following forms: cash, check or electronic transfer of funds. The standard practice is that the insurer will pay weekly income benefits in the form of a check. In the past, for payment to be made in the form of an electronic transfer, the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act required the filing of an application for an exception with the State Board. However, recently the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act was amended to allow for electronic transfer of weekly income benefits if both the insurer and claimant are in agreement. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-221(b).
Although the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act has made a provision for electronic transfer of income benefits, this payment method is rarely used due to technological challenges faced by insurers. Transitioning from mailing paper checks to electronically transferring funds into claimants’ bank accounts requires insurers update their technology which is expensive and often a slow process. However, with the mainstream movement to go green and promote a paperless work place, more and more insurers may begin to offer the option to electronically transfer of funds to claimants.