There could be many reasons you would want to quit your job after filing a workers’ compensation claim, but should you? Can you?
What will happen if you do? Will you lose your benefits?
Below, we will discuss the potential effects of quitting your job on your workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- How it will affect your workers’ comp benefits if you quit your job,
- How it will affect your workers’ comp benefits if you change jobs,
- Different types of workers’ comp benefits that could be affected, and
- How to quit your job or change jobs when it is necessary.
How Will it Affect My Workers’ Comp Medical Benefits if I Quit My Job?
It should not affect your workers’ compensation benefits if you quit your job or if you change jobs because the injury happened in the past, and your current employment status does not affect the validity of your workers’ compensation claim.
This oversimplifies the issue, however. Although your medical expenses should remain the same whether you are at the same job, unemployed, or working for a different employer, your employment status can affect the other benefits you are entitled to receive.
Let’s look at each category of workers’ compensation benefits individually and consider the effect that quitting your job could have on each of them.
Workers’ compensation medical benefits are “portable” – it doesn’t matter where you work or if you do not work at all. If you were injured on the job, your medical expenses must be covered by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance.
Regardless of your employment status, these medical benefits should cover:
- Doctor’s bills,
- Emergency care,
- Hospital bills,
- Prescription medications,
- Medical equipment,
- Vocational rehabilitation,
- Long-term care, and
- Any other necessary medical expenses caused by the on-the-job injury.
If the injury happened while you were working for Employer A, then Employer A is responsible for your medical costs, even if you leave them to go and work for Employer B.
How Will it Affect My Workers’ Comp Wage Benefits if I Quit My Job?
If you leave your job while collecting workers’ comp benefits, it could affect your wage benefits – this is why, if you haven’t already, you should consult with your workers’ comp attorney before making a decision to quit your job or change jobs.
If you are injured and unable to return to work immediately, your employer is required to pay 2/3 of your average weekly wage in disability benefits until you can return to work or until you have reached maximum medical improvement and are assigned 1) an impairment rating and 2) a disability rating that will determine the amount of your final settlement.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD) and Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
Temporary total disability benefits pay a portion of your average weekly wage to help support you until your doctor says that you can return to work.
How can quitting your job or changing jobs affect temporary wage benefits?
One example is that, at some point, your doctor might say that you are cleared to return to work on “light duty,” to accommodate your disability as you continue to recover. If your employer offers you light duty at a reduced wage, you may still be entitled to some wage benefits to make up the difference.
If you quit your job, your employer could then claim that they are willing to offer you a light duty assignment. If you refuse (because you’ve already quit your job), then the employer (their insurance carrier) no longer has a duty to pay your benefits.
What if You Take Another, Lower Paying Job?
If your employer does not offer you a light duty assignment, and you take another job with an employer who offers you less money for work that you can do despite your injuries, you may still be eligible for temporary wage benefits based on the reduced wages you must work for due to your injury.
Your previous employer (their insurance carrier) may fight this, however, claiming that you are able to work since you took another job.
If you take another job, your benefits end because you are working, but then you find that you are unable to perform the new job due to your injuries, you should be able to get your full wage benefits reinstated – again, the insurance carrier may fight the reinstatement of your benefits, claiming that you are able to work since you took another job with a different employer.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) and Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, you may be eligible to receive a settlement to compensate you for any permanent disability caused by the on-the-job injury.
The amount of your settlement is determined in part by 1) the impairment rating assigned to the body part that was injured and 2) the disability rating or the degree to which the body part’s impairment will affect your ability to perform your job.
Permanent total disability benefits are paid to employees who are not likely to be able to find employment because of their injury, while permanent partial disability benefits are a portion of total wages that are paid to employees based on the percentage of impairment caused by the injury.
Although quitting your job should not affect your PPD or PTD settlement, the best policy is to wait until 1) you are cleared to return to work or 2) you have received your settlement for PPD or PTD to avoid any complications – you don’t want to give your employer’s insurance carrier even the slightest possible justification for refusing to pay the full settlement that you are entitled to receive based on your disability rating.
What if You Take a New Job and Don’t Report Your Wages?
If you decide to take a new job, or if you decide to quit your job while you are receiving benefits, tell your workers’ comp lawyer immediately.
You must report any wages that you receive, because:
- If you receive wages while you are also receiving wage benefits from workers’ compensation insurance, you may be required to repay all benefits that you have received – you cannot collect unreported wages while also receiving workers’ comp benefits, and
- If you are receiving wages while you are also receiving wage benefits from workers’ comp, you could be arrested and charged with insurance fraud.
We understand that there are situations where it may be necessary to quit your job while you are still receiving workers’ compensation benefits, and there are situations where you may need to take another job or a second job. The bottom line is, before making any decisions, consult with your workers’ comp attorney.
Your workers’ comp attorney on the Axelrod team can answer your questions about the effect of quitting your job while receiving benefits based on your unique circumstances. We are also available to help you prepare and file your workers’ comp claim and to represent you in any appeals before the Workers’ Compensation Commission and courts.