Getting approved for workers’ compensation in South Carolina is complex, often leaving employees with many questions. One is whether they can still work while they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
First, it’s important to understand that workers’ comp is primarily intended to be a temporary solution until you are able to return to work. In general, the expectation is that you are encouraged to do whatever work you can, provided that you have clearance from your doctor.
With any job injury claim, it’s best to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn what you are entitled to. Get the answers you need from the Manning, S.C. worker’s compensation attorneys at Land, Parker & Welch, P.A. Our skilled team of seasoned attorneys represent clients in Clarendon, Sumter, and Williamsburg counties and the neighboring communities.
Call or contact us now for a free consultation.
Working While Receiving Workers’ Compensation
When workers are injured and cannot return to their previous positions, the general rule is that their employer can offer a modified or alternative position so they can continue working in the same place of employment. This is often referred to as light-duty work. In South Carolina, you cannot return to light-duty work without authorization from your physician.
Injured employees that return to work may continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. When they return to a position that is lower than the position they left when injured, the workers’ compensation benefits they receive will likely be reduced due to the fact that they are still earning some income. The benefits are only intended to make up for the difference in their previous and current salary.
In the event that an employee returns to work and earns the same income — or a higher income — their workers’ compensation benefits will likely stop. This is because the insurance company and the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission will likely determine that they are fit to work and no longer need benefits.
If you believe that your benefits were reduced or stopped too early, contact one of the attorneys at Land, Parker & Welch, P.A. Our legal team can help determine whether your benefits are being appropriately distributed based on your injury and employment situation.
What Happens If I Find a New Job While Receiving Workers’ Comp?
If you have returned from leave but are on restricted work, you can change jobs the same way anyone else in the company would. You simply have to provide notice to your employer, change jobs, and start working for your new employer. You can work at the new job and still continue receiving workers’ comp benefits from the previous employer. However, your benefits may be reduced or discontinued if you accept a job with an equal or higher salary than your original position before you were injured.
Before accepting a new position, it’s important to discuss the job with your doctor. If you accept the position and then later find that your injury prevents you from properly performing your new duties, you may be forced to quit and will left with no income. Even worse, because you have started employment again, you may no longer be considered be injured enough to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
What If I Had a Second Job Before the Injury?
Many South Carolinians work more than one job. If you’re injured at one of the jobs, you’re not necessarily prohibited from working at the other one. But you should take steps to ensure that you can continue receiving the benefits you need without stepping outside of workers’ compensation laws.
The first thing you must do is tell the workers’ compensation insurer that you have another job. You also have to tell them how much you earn at that job. Too many people believe that the second job is not relevant to their workers’ compensation claim because the injury did not happen at that job. This is incorrect. If you do not tell the insurance company about your second job and they find out about it, the insurer may think you are trying to commit insurance fraud.
Both of your employers should know about each other. You should tell the employer where your injury occurred of your intent to return once you are cleared to. You should tell the other employer that you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits but can continue working for them in the meantime. Again, your doctor’s input will be critical here.
An employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This holds true for both the job where you were hurt, and the job you are going to continue working. However, workers’ compensation does not protect your second job while you are receiving benefits. The employer of the job you return to still retains the right to fire you at will. However, they cannot fire you simply because they fear that you will also file a workers’ compensation claim with their insurance company.
Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Both Jobs If My Disability is Permanent?
Perhaps one of the most stressful situations is when an employee is hurt at one job and suffers such severe injuries that they can no longer work at all. If you are in this situation, you should know that workers’ compensation can provide benefits for both jobs after an injury.
Workers’ compensation is intended to help you recover a portion of your lost income when you are hurt and cannot work. As such, you can claim a portion of both incomes as part of your benefits. If your injuries render you permanently and totally disabled, your workers’ compensation benefits will be calculated taking your total loss of income into account.
How Can Land, Parker & Welch Help Me?
Obtaining workers’ compensation in South Carolina can be an incredibly complicated process. There are many ways that claims can get hung up on the path to benefits, especially when competing factors such as second jobs come into play.
The good news is that the workers’ compensation lawyers at Land, Parker & Welch, P.A. can help you with every aspect of the workers’ comp process, from filing the initial application to representing you in any appeals before the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission. Our dedicated team of lawyers is committed to getting you the results you deserve. We can advise you on the best course of action to take so that you can maximize your benefits and most importantly, get well and back into the workforce again.
If you have been hurt at work and need help with your workers’ compensation case, contact us online right away for a free consultation.