Yes, you can start a new job while receiving workers’ comp benefits in Birmingham. In fact, you can even take another job for the same company if they have one available with duties you can handle. Some employers will offer their injured workers positions that have “lighter duties” for less pay until they can return to their previous work or because they cannot work their former job for the foreseeable future.
However, if you do start a new job while receiving workers’ comp benefits, your benefits may decrease, depending on your new salary. As workers’ compensation lawyers at a personal injury law firm in Birmingham, our team often receives questions about workers’ compensation. We know how starting a new job may affect your benefits, what you need to consider, and how to handle the transition.
Should I Get a New Job While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, injured employees receive about two-thirds of their previous pay and medical care coverage for their workplace injury or illness while they are away from work. However, it is not unusual for those out of work for a while to begin looking for a new job. There may be several reasons for this:
- The insurer has not approved their workers’ compensation benefits
- The benefits offered by workers’ comp do not cover their bills
- They do not believe they will ever be able to return to their previous job
- They do not wish to return to their previous employer
You can pursue a new job or even a new career for any of these reasons without worrying about jeopardizing your medical care coverage. You will just need to be sure your doctor approves your new job duties and be aware that it could affect your income benefits.
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Things to Consider Before Taking Another Job While Drawing Workers’ Compensation
Your health and well-being must come first and foremost. If your doctor will not allow you to work at all, a new job may not be a good idea. You may need to stay home and rest. Not following the doctor’s orders could slow your healing and even jeopardize your benefits.
This can be extremely difficult if you are struggling to make ends meet without your full income. You may need to discuss your needs with your doctor to get more information on tasks you are cleared to complete and match a job to your qualifications and current abilities.
Your doctor can look at the job description and requirements to determine if they will approve it. It is crucial to consider the physical requirements of the job and how it may look to the workers’ comp insurance company. For example, if the job description says you must lift 40 pounds, the insurance company could assume your back injury is healed and stop paying for your care.
Handling the Process of Changing Jobs While on Workers’ Compensation
Once the doctor approves your new duties and position, you will need to notify the new employer about your injury and ask them if they will accommodate any medical restrictions. If so, you can tell your old job and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier that you are starting a new job.
The insurance company will likely require you to submit paperwork that could include documentation of:
- The job description and tasks
- Your start date
- Your pay rate
You must complete their paperwork and submit it as requested, preferably before beginning the job. The insurance company will assess your benefits based on the information you provide. In general, your medical benefits should continue as long as there is no indication you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). However, your wage-loss benefits will depend on your new pay rate.
How Will Your New Salary Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you accept a new job that pays less than your old one, workers’ compensation wage-loss benefits will pay you two-thirds of the difference between your new salary and your former salary, up to the policy maximum per week. So, if you make significantly less than your previous job, you may still receive benefits. However, if you make two-thirds of your previous income or more, the benefits will likely stop.
If the insurer unfairly stops your medical benefits or drops wage-loss benefits when you do not believe they should have, a workers’ compensation attorney from our Birmingham office will meet with you for free. We may be able to help you understand the process or convince the insurer they are in the wrong.
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If you are having issues getting or keeping workers’ compensation benefits after an on-the-job accident in Birmingham, our team is here to help. Our lawyers offer free consultations for injured workers in Alabama.
We represent our clients based on a contingency fee. You will not need to pay us anything upfront for our services. We can go to work for you today. Connect with our team to learn more.
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