Can You Work While on Work Comp?

Work Comp Q&A: Can You Work While on Workers' Comp?

To help employees who are struggling to work because of an injury, illness, or disability, workers' comp helps replaces a portion of their salary and cover related medical costs while they are off work. Many people often wonder whether they are able to work while on workers’ comp, being offered light duty at their place of employment, or whether they are eligible to work elsewhere. What’s the answer?

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To learn more about remaining employed while still receiving workers' comp benefits, we’ll answer the following questions:

Can you work while on workers’ compensation?
What factors are taken into account for those who want to work while receiving workers' comp benefits?
Is there a downside to working another job while collecting workers’ comp?
Are there alternatives to collecting workers' comp?

Before we begin, you should discuss these questions and how they may potentially affect you with the expert guidance of an independent insurance agent. These agents are here to help with this topic in-depth, giving you simple answers to complicated questions, unbiased coverage recommendations, and potential money-saving options.

Can you work while on workers’ compensation?

Yes, those who currently receive workers’ compensation benefits due to an injury or illness on the job are able to continue working at the same place of employment or with another employer. However, the answer to this question needs a bit more nuance to fully explain the ramifications of working and in what capacity.

What factors are taken into account for those who want to work while receiving workers' comp benefits?

First, what needs to be taken into consideration is the extent to which an employee is injured. Each state has its own guidelines for what determines a person’s ability to work and in what capacity. 

These designations fall under several classifications that determine the severity of an injury or illness, such as whether it's a temporary or permanent condition. On top of that, there is also a designation for whether an injury or illness is an impairment or a disability. 

Because there are strict workers' comp rules and regulations that must be followed in order for you to claim and receive workers' comp in each state, a person who returns to work may have their benefits reduced in relation to their ability to work. 

If a delivery person is injured in an automobile accident that prevents them from driving, they may be re-employed in a desk position that is less physically demanding and at lower pay. Depending on the pay difference, workers' comp may cover that wage gap. 

Then there’s the question of workplace injuries that are so severe that an injured worker may not be able to work for months or even years. For workers who are classified as having a total permanent disability, any attempts at rejoining the workforce may lead to legal consequences if the state determines that an individual is attempting to commit fraud.

Of course, each state has its own regulations and guidelines for employees to follow, so consulting an independent insurance agent can help clear up where you stand in regard to working and claiming workers' comp benefits concurrently.

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Is there a downside to working another job while collecting workers’ comp?

There are a few downsides to working while collecting workers comp.

First, while disability designations strive to be accurate, working another job may exacerbate preexisting conditions and cause further injuries. While many workers want to rejoin the workforce and stay occupied while they recuperate, it may be a risky decision.

Second, working at the same place of employment or at another job may convince the primary employer that the injured worker has recovered enough to no longer receive benefits. Having to undergo further physical evaluations and prove the extent of injuries may jeopardize benefits and lead to a workers’ comp evaluation by a physician. While this should not deter a person from reporting a second income, there may be a possibility that it can be perceived as committing disability fraud. Disability fraud can be punishable with not only loss of benefits, but also with criminal charges.

Third, if a worker starts a new job that earns more wages than the previous one, a workers' compensation board may determine that indemnity benefits are no longer applicable. In that case, indemnity benefits may be canceled or significantly reduced.

For these reasons and more, consulting an attorney who specializes in workers' comp cases or an independent insurance agent can give you a clear picture of whether you should continue to work.

Are there alternatives to collecting workers' comp?

There are a few alternatives to collecting workers' comp that you should discuss with an independent insurance agent. Having an annuity that pays monthly benefits to a person can help safeguard their standard of living without dealing with potential legal ramifications.

Disability insurance is also another common type of protection that pays out settlements for injured workers if they become disabled. Because a worker who gets injured on the job and accepts workers' comp benefits gives up their ability to sue an employer, an injured worker can collect private disability benefits while potentially also receiving a larger settlement than most workers' comp settlements. Considering that the average workers’ comp settlement is $21,800, this may be a more financially viable option for many individuals.

Consult an independent insurance agent today to learn more.

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