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Working while on Workers’ Comp

  • Dave Brown, Esquire
  • 01/22/2018

You’re receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits for an injury you sustained at your job. Are you able to earn money from working and still collect benefits? The answer is yes, but it’s important that you understand the implications of your returning to work. A hypothetical will help illustrate what happens under these circumstances. Suppose you injure your back at work lifting a heavy box. You were earning $1,200 per week performing your full-time job, and the workers’ compensation insurance company for your employer starts to pay you benefits at the weekly rate of $800 (2/3 of your wages).

Now let’s say your employer offers you a part-time, light-duty position, which would pay you half of your wages — $600. If you return to the job, your employer would be entitled to file a document called a Notification of Modification, which allows them to modify your benefits to $400: 2/3 of the difference between what you were making at the time you were injured ($1,200), and your wages at the light-duty job ($600). It would work the same way if you find a job with a different employer and return to work. If you return to work earning wages equal to or more than your time-of-injury wages, the insurance company can suspend your benefits once it files a Notification of Suspension. Under either scenario, the insurance company remains responsible to pay your medical bills for treatment which is reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury.

Let’s consider another hypothetical. Two weeks after you have returned to work and your benefits have been modified or suspended, your doctor takes you out of work because the job has increased your pain. If a document called a Challenge is filed within 20 days from the time the Notification of Modification or Suspension is filed by the insurance company, your benefits should be automatically reinstated when your case goes before a judge so you will not lose money. However, if the Challenge is filed more than 20 days after the filing of the Notification of Modification or Suspension, you may have to go through some more hoops to get your benefits reinstated.
Deciding whether to return to work – full-time or part-time – when you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits is a big decision. If you’re considering taking this step, you are urged to call Pearson Koutcher Law and consult with one of our top-notch workers’ compensation lawyers who will fully advise you of your rights and file any necessary documents on your behalf to ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.

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