Can I work while receiving workers’ compensation?
Can I Work While Receiving Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?
Workers’ compensation, or workers’ comp, is the most common way for injured or disabled workers to receive compensation for workplace injuries. The program is a state-mandated insurance program that provides medical benefits and wage replacement for workers injured or disabled due to their employment. However, there are strict rules and regulations that you must follow if you plan to claim and receive workers’ compensation benefits. One of the most common questions workers have is: “Can I still work while receiving workers’ compensation?”
Typically, after a work-related injury, the injured employee has many questions concerning workers’ comp, the benefits they are eligible for, and the rules surrounding those benefits. A common question that workers who have filed or are collecting workers’ comp benefits have is if they will be able to work, or at least be offered light-duty work, while they have an open workers’ comp claim.
Questions About Workers’ Compensation Rules and Regulations? Speak With an Expert Workers’ Comp Lawyer
The Pennsylvania workers’ comp program has two primary objectives. First, provide medical benefits and wage replacement for people that have suffered a workplace injury, and second, ensure that injured workers return to work when and if they can.
Workers’ compensation is designed to help employees who are struggling because of a work-related injury or disability. The payments are generally modest, at about two-thirds of your average wage. While the wage replacement provided by workers’ comp is less than the wages you earned before your injury, these benefits are not taxed, which helps to offset the shortage.
Workers’ comp is intended to cover workplace injuries, whether they are due to the carelessness of an employee or employer. Because of these broad parameters, there is an extensive list of potential circumstances and injuries and some limits imposed by the state.
Working While on Workers’ Comp in PA
Most people who receive workers’ comp benefits recover fully from their injury, and their benefits end when they return to work. But not all cases are that straightforward. Sometimes, a doctor will release a patient who has not fully recovered to work part-time or perform light-duty work while still under a doctor’s care.
This decision leads many people to ask, “Can I work while receiving workers’ comp benefits?” The answer is, yes, with your doctor’s release, in some situations, you are allowed to work while collecting workers’ comp benefits, and in others, a doctor’s release for modified or light-duty may cause your employer to require you to work. However, the answer can be complicated, and it’s essential to know the rules so that you don’t lose your benefits.
Workers’ comp rules and regulations in Pennsylvania are complex. They can be challenging to navigate, with many factors affecting the length of an injured worker’s recovery and how long benefits may be paid. If you have questions about the rules and regulations involved with working while receiving workers’ comp benefits, the best way to ensure that you have a thorough understanding is to speak with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at Munley Law have helped many injured workers in Pennsylvania obtain and maintain workers’ compensation benefits. While every injured worker’s case is unique, there are a few common situations.
Light-Duty or Modified Work
Often, at some point during an injured worker’s recovery, the treating physician may determine that the person, while not fully recovered, can return to work with certain restrictions or limits. For example, the doctor may decide that while still under their care, the employee can perform what’s commonly referred to as light or modified-duty work.
Suppose your doctor releases you for light duty, and your employer can modify your regular job or provide an alternate position that fits within your restrictions. In that case, your employer could require you to report to work, and failure to do so could put your continuing benefits at risk. While on light duty, your employer may pay you less than your regular wages, but you will be entitled to supplemental worker’s compensation checks.
Some employers cannot accommodate light-duty restrictions, which can keep an employee from returning to work. In contrast, others create light-duty jobs to get injured employees back to work and reduce their workers’ comp insurance payout. In either case, you would still be under a doctor’s care and have ongoing medical expenses. As a result, it’s critical to ensure that you follow the rules so you can maintain your workers’ compensation benefits.
Can I Work Part-Time While on Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance is required of all Pennsylvania employers to ensure that employees hurt while on the job are compensated for their medical expenses and their lost wages. Since every illness or injury is unique, there is no predetermined benefit amount or time frame.
Workers’ comp determines the amount and duration of benefits by assessing how the injury impacts your ability to perform the job and whether you are partially or permanently disabled. In essence, workers’ comp aims to provide injured workers relief from medical expenses they incur due to a workplace injury, financial assistance to cover the immediate loss of wages, and compensation for any future inability to earn a comparable income.
While most people fully recover from workplace injuries and some become permanently disabled, other injuries are less severe and leave the employee partially disabled. Often, an injured worker who is partially disabled may be able to work part-time at a job within the scope of their abilities and restrictions. In this case, the injured worker may be able to return to a part-time position with the same employer or a new one at a lower pay rate.
While this scenario is allowed under Pennsylvania’s workers’ comp laws, it will reduce the amount of benefits paid and can actually endanger the claim itself. Partially disabled workers who take a part-time position can still receive their workers’ comp benefits but must adhere to specific regulations. If you have experienced a workplace injury and can only work part-time because of it, speaking with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney will ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve.
Can I Take a Second Job or Change Jobs While on Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ comp pays injured employees approximately two-thirds of the salary or wages they earned before the injury. Even considering that workers’ comp benefits are not taxable, this is still a significant reduction in take-home pay.
This reduction in take-home pay often leads many injured employees collecting workers’ comp benefits to ask whether they can take a second job or find new employment and still receive their benefits. While this is possible, it’s essential to understand that you are receiving benefits because of a work-related injury.
If you are considering a second or new job while receiving workers’ comp benefits, you should first talk to your treating physician. Before accepting a new position, ensure that your doctor will certify that your new job duties will not make your condition worse or affect your recovery. If you start a new job, you will also have to contact the insurance company paying your workers’ comp claim, inform them of your new job, and provide them with your new pay rate and salary information.
Starting a second or new job while collecting workers’ comp benefits because you are unable to work your previous job can damage your workers’ comp claim, even if the duties of the new job are compatible with your restrictions. Not only can a new source of income cause the workers’ comp insurer to reduce your benefits, but they may also use your new position to make the argument that you are not disabled and seek to terminate your benefits.
Suppose you already had a second job at the time of your injury. In that case, the insurance company cannot reduce your benefits because you can perform your second job but are physically unable to perform the tasks at the position where you were injured.
Legally, you are required to report all of your income when you file your claim, including your second job and salary. Unreported income while collecting workers’ comp could jeopardize your benefits. Before accepting a new job, you should consult with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney to protect your benefits.
Speak to an Experienced PA Workers’ Comp Lawyer from Munley Law
The complexity of the workers’ compensation program makes it easy to make a mistake, break a rule and jeopardize your claim. In addition, since employers fund the program, and claims can be costly, insurance providers and employers will typically challenge or deny a claim if they find a cause.
At Munley Law, we have 60 years of experience protecting the interests of injured workers in Pennsylvania. We earned the highest peer-review ratings from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and have been recognized by the Best Lawyers in America.
Our experienced and knowledgeable team are the leading workers’ compensation attorneys in Pennsylvania and can assist you with your workers’ comp claim from start to finish. If you have concerns or questions about returning to work after suffering a workplace injury, contact us today and let us review your claim and discuss your options.
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