Iowa workers' compensation
Get the necessary forms, rules, and explanations for filing an Iowa workers' compensation claim here. You may also qualify for a a free consultation with a workers' compensation attorney.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Benefits Process

Unless you’re a federal employee, state law determines how you’ll apply and qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you get hurt or sick while doing your job, we’ll explain how to apply for Iowa workers’ compensation benefits. Then, our interactive chart shows how the Iowa workers’ compensation program changed from 2014-2018 below.

Which Employers Must Provide Workers’ Compensation Coverage Under Current State Law?

In most cases, it’s a felony for any employer to operate in Iowa without workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage includes all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers in this state. However, some people not automatically covered may include:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Independent contractors
  • Federal employees (i.e., postal workers)
  • Police officers and firefighters eligible for benefits through their pension fund
  • People working for an immediate family member or spouse
  • Domestic or casual employees who earned less than $1,500 in the 12 months prior to their workplace illness or injury
  • Limited liability company (LLC) members

Related: Kansas Workers’ Compensation Benefits: How to Apply

Steps to Apply for Iowa Workers’ Compensation Benefits

According to the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), follow these steps to file your claim:

  1. Report your workplace injury/illness to your employer right away, and before seeking medical treatment. What happens if you don’t notify your employer within 90 days of your accident or see your own doctor? In both cases, state law says you may lose your right to claim any Iowa workers’ compensation benefits.
  2. Your employer chooses a medical care provider to treat you. Not happy with the doctor they chose? Ask the insurance carrier for another option or apply for alternate medical care through the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
  3. On the fourth day your injury forces you to miss work, your employer must then notify the Commissioner. Your employer files a First Report of Injury or Illness form with the DWC as well as their insurance provider.
  4. If approved, your Iowa workers’ compensation payments should start 11 days after reporting your accident. These payments cover either 2/3 or 80% of your average weekly wages, depending on your injury type. If you don’t need time off to recover, Iowa workers’ compensation only covers your medical bills (if any).
  5. To dispute your claim’s denial, talk to your employer or the insurance carrier first. If that doesn’t resolve your problem, you can contact an Iowa Workers’ Compensation Compliance Administrator. You must resolve any Iowa workers’ compensation claim disputes within two years of your accident date to qualify for benefits.

For more information about the Iowa workers’ compensation program, check out the DWC’s guide brochure.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2014-2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report lists current workers’ compensation program data for most U.S. states. This report shows total claims filed, days missed at work, how many got job restrictions or changed positions, etc. It also lists claim data broken down for each job sector, such as manufacturing, construction or service-providing industries. Our interactive chart below shows how Iowa workers’ compensation program numbers changed from 2014-2018:

As you can see, total claims fell 20% between 2014 and 2018. Meanwhile, service-industry claims fell 14% over that same five-year time period. Overall, service-industry employees file between 48% to 53% of workers’ comp claims in Iowa every year. Injured workers who received job restrictions or changed positions rose from 47% in 2014 to 53% in 2018. This is an important trend, since the numbers in red are the only claims that receive weekly lost wage payments.

It’s important to know that state law lets insurers deny workers’ compensation claims for preexisting conditions. Since your employer chooses which doctor can treat you, proving your job made an old injury worse could be difficult. What’s more, the Iowa DWC says people appealing denied claims usually show up with legal representation. No matter how simple or complex your own claim may be, you can consult a workers’ comp attorney for free.

Sign up for a free, no-obligation consultation today and we’ll match you with the closest available attorney. If that lawyer handles your claim, you pay $0 for legal assistance if you don’t win a cash settlement. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.