Working While on Workers’ Compensation Benefits – Is It Possible?
A lot of people wonder whether they’ll be able to work during a workers’ compensation claim or at least be offered light duty work after a work-related injury.
So, can you work while on workers’ compensation? It depends. If you’re getting workers’ compensation benefits, it’s because you suffered a workplace injury that left you unable to perform your normal job duties. You won’t be allowed to work a full-time job while receiving workers’ comp benefits. While you may be able to work a part-time job, this may jeopardize your eligibility for continuing to receive benefits.
Table of Contents
Confused About Workers’ Compensation Rules? Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you’re unsure about the rules about working while receiving workers’ compensation, talk to an experienced attorney to see what your options are.
Watch the video below and read on to learn how employment may jeopardize your workers’ comp claim. If you’re still confused, use our site’s live chat to ask us a question or call us toll-free at (844) 243-4846 to speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Can I Work While I’m on Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Usually, the answer is no. Injured workers receive benefits because they are not physically able to perform their jobs. However, there are partial disability cases where employees are able to work part-time, though this may affect benefits and can sometimes jeopardize the claim.
Can You Work a Part-Time Job While on Workers’ Compensation?
Pennsylvania law requires all employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to ensure that employees who are injured on the job will be compensated for lost time and medical expenses.
There is no predetermined timeframe of illness and injury. Wage loss is determined based on the injury’s impact on your ability to perform your job and whether you suffer from a permanent disability or are partially disabled.
In this way, the state attempts to award an amount that reflects an employee’s current medical bills, but also his or her future inability to earn the same income.
However, the injuries of many employees are not this severe, leaving them partially disabled. In these cases, an injured employee may be able to work part-time for the same employer or for another employer who offers lower-paying work that is within the range of tasks that the employee can complete.
While this is permissible under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws, it does mean that the number of benefits being received will be reduced, and it can actually jeopardize the claim itself.
These individuals can continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits but must comply with specific limitations. If you were injured at work and are only able to work part-time, it is important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Working A Second Job While Collecting Workers’ Comp
Working at another job or getting a new job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits is not always a good idea, as it may convince the primary employer that the injured worker is fully recovered and no longer requires disability benefits.
However, this should not deter a person from reporting a second income, as a failure to do so could be perceived as a workers’ compensation fraud on the part of the employee, which is punishable not only by a loss of benefits but also criminal penalties.
Ultimately, whether a person should begin working part-time depends on the specific circumstances of his or her case and the type of work they are doing.
If for example, a warehouse employee injured his or her shoulder while loading inventory and is not able to continue working in a job that requires lifting, he or she would not necessarily be completely barred from collecting workers’ compensation benefits for working part-time as a cashier where no lifting is required.
In these situations, it is more difficult for an employer to convince an insurer or the workers’ compensation board that the employee has completely healed and no longer requires benefits, especially if the employee is earning less than he or she did prior to the injury.
It is important to note that if an employee accepts a job and begins making more money, payments for lost wages will be suspended.
Working in Pennsylvania While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When employees are injured on the job, they may be eligible to collect benefits through Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation program.
Almost all employers are required to provide coverage, although certain employees are exempt, including:
- Volunteer workers
- Exempt religious institutions
- Exempt executive officers
- Independent contractors
- Agricultural laborers
- Domestic employees
Federal employees are also exempt, as they are covered under a separate workers’ compensation program. In certain cases, even non-exempt employees will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Those who purposely cause their own injuries while at work, for example, are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
This also applies to employees who were injured in the workplace while:
- Under the influence of drugs
- Breaking the law
Except in these specific instances, injured workers will be eligible for medical benefits and replacement of lost wages, regardless of fault. However, the injured worker will need to comply with a series of rules when providing notice to an employer.
For instance, employees must file a claim within 120 days or risk having it permanently barred. Furthermore, the longer an employee waits to report an injury, the harder it usually is to have it approved.
If a claim is approved, an injured worker is eligible to receive two-thirds of his or her average weekly wage, in addition to reimbursement for medical expenses. Although the length of time that an injured employee can continue to receive workers’ compensation depends on the severity and type of injury.
If, for instance, a person is totally disabled, his or her injury will be rated based on a predetermined schedule.
After 104 weeks have passed, an insurer can require the recipient to undergo a medical examination where a treating doctor will assess the injured worker’s degree of disability. If the determination results in an impairment rating of more than 50%, the injured party can continue to receive benefits indefinitely.
However, if the worker is found to be less than 50% impaired, he or she will be deemed partially disabled and can continue receiving benefits for up to 500 weeks.
What You Should Know About Additional Income While Receiving Workers’ Comp
Under workers’ compensation laws, injured employees who receive benefits must report any income they earn to their employer’s insurer.
For example, if a person worked at a single job, he or she would only be required to report the salary from that source. However, someone who worked at two jobs and was injured while working at the primary place of employment would need to report both sources of income, even if the second job is only part-time.
Fortunately, under Pennsylvania law, insurers are required to take incomes from all forms of employment into account at the time the employee was injured.
This means that even when an employee is injured at one job, the wages from both employers will be considered as if they were earned only from the employer who is liable for compensation.
As a result, injured employees are eligible to collect two-thirds of the combined weekly wages from both jobs.
If an injured party is able to work on a full or part-time basis, whether for the primary employer or a secondary employer, he or she must immediately report this to the insurance company, which will then adjust the benefits accordingly to account for the additional income.
This process was put in place to prevent what is referred to as double-dipping, which occurs when an employee collects a workers’ comp check, while also collecting a paycheck from another job.
Confused About the Rules About Working While Getting Benefits? Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While working part-time is not necessarily prohibited under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law, it can jeopardize the success of a claim.
If you were injured at work, but are offered part-time employment at a less physically demanding job, it is important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before making a decision.
Feel free to contact the workers’ compensation law firm at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo by calling (844) 243-4846 or starting a live chat on our site to learn more about your legal options. Remember, KK&O offers free case evaluations even before an attorney-client relationship is established.