Can You Work While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
For most people, work is about more than a paycheck. It gives us a sense of purpose and builds friendships. In that sense, work contributes to our overall health and well-being. That is why many people want to get back to work after they suffer a work-related injury – even if they still suffer lingering effects of that injury.
If you are one of these people, you may wonder, “If I go back to work, can I still get workers’ compensation benefits?” The answer depends on several factors, including your type of disability, your employer’s ability to accommodate your work restrictions and your wages after you return to work.
Working with a Temporary Partial Disability
The Florida workers’ compensation system provides for temporary partial disability benefits. If you qualify for these benefits, you can return to work and still receive wage replacement benefits. Here’s how these benefits work:
First, if you suffered a work injury that allows you to go back to work in a limited or restricted capacity, and you still have not reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), then you may qualify for these benefits. For instance, a doctor may clear you to return to work but restrict you from lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds or standing for prolonged periods.
Second, your employer must be able to accommodate your restrictions. For instance, the employer may have a job for you that involves handling paperwork instead of engaging in physical activity. If the employer cannot accommodate your restrictions, then you cannot work. Instead, you would receive workers’ compensation benefits equal to 64 percent of your average weekly wage (AWW), or 80 percent of 80 percent of your AWW. The AWW is the average of what you earned during the 13 weeks before your injury (not counting the week in which you were injured).
Third, if your employer can accommodate your restrictions, then the question turns to how much your employer will pay you. If the employer pays you 80 percent or more of your AWW, then you can return to work, but you will not receive any workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you do not earn at least 80 percent of your AWW, then you can return to work and receive workers’ compensation benefits at the same time.
The amount that you receive in temporary partial disability benefits will represent 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of your AWW and what you earn now. For instance, let’s say that your AWW was $1,000. You now earn $400 per week. You would calculate 80 percent of $1,000, which is $800. Then, you would deduct your present wages, or take $800 minus $400. You would get $400. Finally, you would calculate 80 percent of $400, which is $320. That would be your benefits amount.
You can receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 104 weeks or until a doctor determines that you have reached MMI.
Working with a Permanent Partial Disability
If a doctor concludes that you have reached MMI and suffer from a permanent impairment, then the doctor will give you an impairment rating. This rating reflects the percentage of your total body that is impaired. The impairment rating will determine how many weeks you receive permanent partial disability benefits. For instance, if you have an impairment rating:
- Between 1-10 percent, you will get two weeks of benefits for each point
- Between 11-15 percent, three weeks of benefits for each point
- Between 16-20 percent, four weeks of benefits for each point
- Between 21-99 percent, six weeks of benefits for each point.
The amount you receive in benefits is equal to 75 percent of the amount you would have received in total temporary disability benefits. However, if you go back to work and earn as much or more than you earned before your injury, your benefits would be reduced.
Get Help from a Miami Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you encounter any problems with your workers’ compensation claim – whether you stay out of work or try to go back to your job – you should seek help immediately from an experienced Miami workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Payer & Associates by calling us or reaching us through our convenient online form. We can provide a free consultation today.