Not all cases of on-the-job injuries leave a person unable to work, and not all recipients of workers’ compensation are injured severely enough that they cannot work at all. You may look for a different type of job that will not aggravate your injury while you are receiving workers’ compensation. Or perhaps your employer has offered you a temporary position on light duty at a lower wage that will not affect your injury. While the desire to continue working is perfectly understandable, there are several things you need to take into consideration when it comes to your partial disability benefits.
Reporting Earnings and Adjusting Benefits
Any income that you receive while on workers’ compensation must be promptly reported to your employer’s insurance company — including work from another employer unrelated to your claim or self-employment. Once that income is reported, your benefits will be adjusted accordingly and you may be entitled to partial wage loss. Failure to report income is perceived as fraud and could lead to serious consequences including the forfeiture of your workers’ compensation benefits and even criminal prosecution.
Qualifying for Partial Disability Benefits
Partial disability benefits exist to make up for income lost by employees who are able to work, but in a lesser capacity after a work-related injury. If your post-injury income is greater than or equal to your pre-injury income, then partial disability does not apply.
To calculate your partial disability benefits, first, subtract your actual (current) weekly gross income from your pre-injury average weekly wage. Then multiply that amount by ⅔ to get the amount of partial disability benefits you may be entitled to each week. For example, if your pre-injury average weekly wage was $900 and your post-injury weekly income is $600, then your partial disability benefits would be $200 per week (900 – 600 = 300 –> 300 x ⅔ = 200). It is also important to keep in mind that partial disability benefits are limited to 500 weeks per claim.
What if I Already Worked Multiple Jobs?
If you work multiple jobs and are injured at one of them, you can continue to work at your other job(s) while receiving workers’ compensation benefits if those other jobs fall within your ongoing physical capabilities. However, as previously mentioned, this income must be reported promptly. As long as you are a W-2 Employee at each job, your total income across all jobs is what is used to calculate your average weekly wage and entitlement to benefits, not just the income from the job where your injury took place. Self-employment income is trickier and you really should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if that applies to you.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are injured at one of two or more jobs you work, it is highly recommended that you speak with a workers’ compensation attorney who will be able to ensure you are reporting your income correctly so you continue to receive the benefits you are entitled to. They will also be able to answer case-specific questions you may have regarding how to navigate multiple jobs with your injury.
Finding a New Job on Workers’ Compensation
There are times when your injury may not completely exclude you from the workforce, but will still prevent you from working at your pre-injury job. For example, if you were a construction worker you may not be able to go back to work at that job, but perhaps you could find a desk job elsewhere which does not aggravate your injury and falls within the physical capacities set by your treating doctor. One thing to consider in such a scenario is that your former employer — and their insurance company — may seek to reduce or stop your benefits. However, if you are earning less money than you did pre-injury and your new job is clearly within the limitations of your injury, you should be entitled to ongoing partial disability benefits, as well as, ongoing medical benefits.
If you are unsure about whether you can/should seek an alternative job, call an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney for guidance.
It’s important to remember that your employer or their insurance company may hire an investigator to search your social media and online presence and to observe/film you performing everyday activities. This investigator will be seeking information suggesting that you are working or that your physical capabilities exceed those that you claim. Even innocent posts may be misinterpreted. For example, a picture of you at a theme park with your kids when you are out of work may not cast your claim in the best light and there may be an implication that you went on thrill rides while claiming to be disabled, even if you did not go on any. For this reason, we recommend that you are very careful about anything you post on social media while you recover.
You can work while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If you work at a wage loss, you may be entitled to partial disability benefits. You may also be entitled to ongoing medical benefits. Before returning to work, you should ensure that you are cleared by your doctor. Report all income and ensure you are receiving all partial disability benefits you may be entitled to.
Contact Hillsberg Law
If you have been injured on the job, then you already know that there are aspects of workers’ compensation law that are very confusing and complex. If you want to make sure that you receive the compensation and reimbursement that you have a legal right to, you should seek the services of a specialist attorney like me, Geoffrey Hillsberg. Since 1995, I have made the changing landscape of workers’ compensation law in the state of Pennsylvania my sole area of practice. Contact Hillsberg Law today!
The advice offered above is general in nature and may not be applicable to every case. Consultation with an attorney is highly recommended. Reliance on this advice does not represent the formation of an attorney-client relationship in the absence of a fee agreement with Mr. Hillsberg.