If you’re wondering how to make ends meet after a work-related injury, don’t worry. You may be able to get another job while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Sometimes, it is possible to collect workers’ comp and work simultaneously.
Workers’ comp can be complex, so you must know the rules and how they apply to your situation. We’re here to help you understand when you can and can’t work while collecting workers’ comp.
Is it legal to work while receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
If you’re collecting workers’ compensation benefits, it’s likely because you were hurt on the job and can no longer perform the work you used to do. For example, you may have been a factory worker who sustained a back injury and you can no longer load your machine.
Life goes on and you’re looking for ways to maintain financial stability. While your workers’ compensation benefits will pay a portion of what you earned before your accident, you may be considering taking on a different type of work (a computer-based job, for example).
Fortunately, you can legally continue working, even if you’re already collecting money from a workers’ compensation claim — but there are a few catches. First, you must report your earnings. You may accidentally commit workers’ compensation fraud if you misrepresent your earnings or employment while collecting workers’ comp benefits.
Before you start a new job, consult your insurance company and a workers’ compensation attorney to understand how your new job will impact your benefits payout and your eligibility for workers’ compensation.1
Can you change jobs during a workers’ comp claim?
Suppose you simply don’t see yourself going back to the same job after an injury, but you aren’t sure about your next plans. Can you quit your job while on workers’ comp? The answer is yes, and many people do.
When an employee suffers permanent or long-lasting effects from a work injury, they may have no choice but to change careers. For example, the employee who suffered a back injury may transition out of a physically demanding position and into a more sedentary one, such as a paperwork processing or data entry position.
But remember that changing jobs or taking on a new role may reduce or impact your compensation claims, so consider consulting with an attorney before you make the transition.
Can you work a second job during a workers’ comp claim?
Suppose you had a second job before you were injured. In that case, you might want to continue working that job after your injury. If you choose to work a second job, make sure you report your earnings. Failing to report earnings accurately can result in workers’ compensation fraud charges.
If you take on a new job while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, your insurance company may adjust your benefit payouts to account for the additional income you’re now earning. It may also impact how long you can collect workers’ comp.
Additionally, you’ll need to be careful about what kind of work you take on. For instance, working a sedentary job after a back injury is probably fine. But if you take on another physically demanding job while collecting workers’ compensation benefits because you are “too injured to work,” you may be accused of fraud or be required to pay fines or restitution.
Are there penalties for working while collecting workers’ comp benefits?
As long as you’re reporting your earnings, you won’t face any penalties for working while you’re collecting workers’ comp benefits. Problems arise if you misrepresent your earnings while collecting funds from workers’ compensation.
To ensure you’re reporting everything correctly, you might want to meet with an unemployment attorney or a certified public accountant (CPA) to figure out how to report your income correctly while collecting your unemployment benefits.
When can you return to work after a workers’ comp settlement?
During a workers’ compensation claim, your employer may want you to return to work quickly. Still, that might not be the best choice for your health.
Instead, you’ll want to ensure your doctor clears you to return to work before you resume your job. Going back to work before you’re fully healed physically can put you at risk of getting injured again or aggravating your injury, setting your recovery timeline back.
Additionally, going back to work too early may complicate collecting the complete sum of your workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, your workers’ compensation settlement will require you to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before you return to work.2 This means your condition cannot be improved any further and that you’re either fully healed or as thoroughly as your doctor expects you to be. A doctor will need to determine and sign off on your MMI.
Waiting until you’ve reached MMI ensures you receive the full amount of your workers’ compensation benefits and decreases the risk of being re-injured once you return to work.
Doctor’s orders: Get insured
Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical layer of protection. If you’re injured, it will replace your income and make it possible for your family to pay bills and stay afloat while recovering from your accident. If you’re looking for workers’ compensation insurance, Thimble is here for you. Click “get a quote” now or download the Thimble mobile app. Select your desired coverage period, get a quote, and get covered in minutes.