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Getting a New Job While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Man walking on crutches at work

If you get injured in a job-related incident in Michigan, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you took a new job while receiving benefits, what would happen?

The answer to this complex question is likely determined on a case-by-case basis. Below, learn more about this issue and why you should consider speaking with a licensed attorney for assistance after a work injury.

At Jay Trucks and Associates, there is no cost or obligation for an initial consultation to speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact us today to find out how we may be able to help you.

Can I Get Another Job While On Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. It is intended to ensure that employees receive proper care and compensation for the loss of income while they are unable to perform their regular duties. If you’re considering filing a workers’ compensation claim or have already done so as an injured worker, you may wonder whether you can continue receiving workers’ comp benefits should you change jobs or seek additional sources of income.

The short answer is yes, it’s possible. However, this topic is complex, and there are several caveats to consider.

Workers Compensation Laws in Michigan: What Are the Rules About Returning to Work?

Under Michigan law, if you are injured on the job, you are entitled to receive wage loss benefits based on your average weekly wage at the time of injury. However, any income earned from this secondary employment must be reported to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Failing to do so could result in a reduction or termination of your benefits. Maintaining transparency about your wage-earning activities is crucial to maintaining your benefits and avoiding accusations of fraud.

It is important to understand your rights as an injured employee in Michigan. The general rule is that when you can do your job and receive the same pay as before your injury, your workers’ compensation benefits cease. However, if you are unable to work at all – or can return, but with restrictions – you may still be eligible for partial disability benefits.

Disability Benefits

If you’re receiving temporary partial disability benefits, seeking and obtaining another job can impact your benefits. You might find that your current or anticipated future restrictions affect what type of employment you’re able to do. As a result, you may find that the tasks you’re capable of performing are compensated by lower wages. Temporary disability benefits are designed to supplement your income when you’re able to work but can’t earn the same wages as before due to your injury.

If the income from your new job, combined with your TPD benefits, exceeds your pre-injury wages, your benefits may be reduced or eliminated. Therefore, it’s essential to consider how changing jobs might affect your overall income and disability benefits.

With permanent partial disability benefits, the situation can be more complex. If your PPD benefits are based on a scheduled injury (a specific type of injury listed in the state’s “schedule of losses”), working a second job might not impact your benefits. However, non-scheduled injuries are valued based on their impact on your wage-earning capacity. Therefore, any new income might result in a reduction in benefits.

In the case of temporary total disability or permanent total disability benefits, any indication that you are capable of working in a meaningful capacity could potentially invalidate your disability benefit.

Light-Duty Work

Sometimes an employer may offer you light-duty work, either in lieu of paying you disability benefits or as a means to ease you back into work sooner. Regardless of the reason, this offer must meet certain requirements under the law, including:

  • The work offered must be within a reasonable distance from your home
  • The position must meet your doctor’s restrictions for your current work capabilities

If your employer offers light-duty work, you must accept it if the position meets Michigan’s requirements for injured workers and also if it does not violate your doctor’s outlined restrictions. If you either ignore or refuse the offer, you are giving up your right to receive further benefits.

However, if an offer violates your physician’s restrictions or other state requirements, then your employer may simply be trying to pressure you to quit. Before making any decision, you should consider contacting a lawyer to help you to understand your rights under the law.

Why Take a New Job

Sometimes a work-related injury may make an employee consider taking another type of work. There are many good reasons an individual may consider this option.

Meets Physical Restrictions, Pays Same Salary

If you find a job that offers you the same salary you were making before your injury but also meets your current physical restrictions, it may benefit you, financially and physically, to consider it.

However, under Michigan’s workers’ compensation law, if you take a new job in this situation, which means quitting your current one, your wage loss benefits will stop.

Meets Physical Restrictions, Pays Less

If you take a job with restrictions that pays less than you made before your injury, you may still be eligible for some disability benefits. Partial disability benefits are likely to continue until you can work without restrictions.

Workers’ Comp Medical Benefits

It is important to note that you can still receive medical benefits, regardless of whether you switch jobs or if your wage replacement benefits cease. Michigan’s workers’ compensation system covers all reasonable medical treatment you need because of your work-related injury.

If your employer or workers’ comp insurance carrier refuses to pay your medical bills because you started a new job elsewhere, it is important that you seek legal help immediately. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Grand Rapids are prepared to discuss further details about your rights and legal options in a free consultation.

Before Accepting a New Job

It may be financially appealing to take a new job that pays your previous salary while also allowing you to work without restrictions. However, it is good to be cautious about going back to work before you are ready. You do not want to start a job too soon and risk injuring yourself again or possibly hurting your chances of making a full recovery.

On the other hand, if you can return to work, make the same salary as before, and avoid increasing your risk of further physical harm, it may make financial sense to switch jobs. Remember, disability benefits do not reimburse you for your full salary when you are unable to work.

Additionally, employers are not legally required to either hold your job or offer you alternative work until you can return. By the time you are ready to go back, your job may no longer be available. Continuing to receive only the reduced wage benefit provided under workers’ compensation often leads to a difficult financial situation for many.

Maximum Medical Improvement

“Maximum medical improvement” (MMI) refers to the point at which an injured worker’s medical condition has stabilized, and no further functional improvement is expected, even with additional medical treatment. To determine what your MMI is and at what point you reach it, your insurance company may require you to see an approved physician. A workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected during this process, especially should you be required to give a statement about your condition’s progression.

Once MMI is reached, it indicates that the worker’s condition is not expected to improve significantly. At this stage, the worker’s permanent disability level can be determined, which is crucial in assessing long-term disability benefits, such as permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD).

Call Today for Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim

After meeting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for your free case review, there is no risk or obligation to hire our firm. However, if we validate your claim, and you decide to hire us, there are also no fees while we work on your case. We do not get paid unless you receive compensation.

At Jay Trucks & Associates, our team of legal professionals has extensive knowledge of Michigan’s process for appealing denied claims. We’re dedicated to helping injured employees retain their current benefits, pursue new claims, and achieve the maximum results for their unique circumstances.

Contact our trusted firm today. Ph: (800) 762-8623