Can I Apply for A New Job While on Workers Comp?
You’re out on workers compensation and recovering from injuries that prevent you from doing your primary job, but what if an employment opportunity arises that you can do despite your injuries and recovery program? Can you take it and still retain your workers compensation benefits?
The answer is yes, no, and maybe, for taking a job will no doubt trigger a review of your workers compensation case. If the insurer determines that taking the new job proves you can perform the work at the job where you were injured, they could cancel your benefits, or at least reduce your benefits to account for your new income.
Kansas has drastically restricted its workers compensation benefits since the enactment of the 2011 Kansas Workers Compensation Act (KWCA), which also made the mere act of qualifying even harder.
If you’re facing workers compensation issues of any sort, contact the attorneys at Wichita-based Slape & Howard. We have been fighting for worker rights under the new employer- and insurer-friendly system and will be happy to help you with whatever issue or hurdle you face.
Can I Apply for A New Job
While on Workers Compensation?
Employees out on workers compensation face a variety of struggles. For one, they are compensated only for two-thirds of their former wages, which can be calculated using a variety of methods that reduce the workweek hours and compensation owed to you. Workers and their families may be struggling to make ends meet under workers compensation.
In addition, workers out on benefits may be getting bored and anxious as the desire for something other than sitting at home grows stronger each passing day. They may have injuries that prevent them from doing the physically challenging tasks of their former job, but a desk job or something with fewer physical challenges may be just the solution. The question is: Can you really apply for a job while you’re out on workers compensation?
If the job truly is one that respects your physical restrictions, you may well be able to accept the job, but the workers compensation insurance provider must not only be informed but also sign off on the new position. This, of course, could pose grave hurdles, as the insurer is no doubt going to see this as a way to lower or cancel your benefits. Insurers are always looking out for the bottom line.
What Should I Do if I Find a Job I Want?
The first thing to do is consult with your attending physician to see if the new position is actually something you can do given your physical condition. You will also need to discuss with your new employer any physical restrictions you may have and any accommodations you may need.
You must also notify the workers compensation insurance company of the opportunity and your desire to take it. Give them the job details, salary expected, and start date. Most importantly, complete and return any paperwork that the insurance company sends you. Provide supporting documentation from your physician as necessary to bolster your case.
How a New Job May Affect Your Benefits
Even if the insurer agrees to continue making medical payments for your injuries, it may use your new income as a reason to reduce or eliminate your wage loss compensation. Since taking your new job will no doubt require you to resign from the job covering your workers compensation, you may forfeit your right to wage replacement altogether, even if your medical benefits continue to be honored.
The insurance company might require you to see an approved doctor a minimum number of times per year to continue receiving medical benefits.
The insurer can also argue that, if you can work a new job, you are no longer physically restricted and they can stop both medical and wage loss benefits. You may face an uphill task convincing them just to continue your medical payments, let alone a full package of benefits.
Let Slape & Howard Answer All Your Questions
Under the workers compensation system in Kansas, it’s never a good idea to go through the process all by yourself. There are new legal and medical evaluation hurdles in place that can reduce your benefits, or even deny them if you don’t meet stringent deadlines.
We have been working with other workers compensation attorney groups to get the KWCA modified, and we will continue to do so. We’re on your side — the worker’s side — so trust us to help you with any obstacle you face.
Contact us at Slape & Howard with all your workers compensation challenges. We’re located in Wichita, but we serve clients throughout Kansas. If you want that new job, let us help you navigate the system for the best possible outcome.