When people are injured on the job, there are a number of employment law issues that can come into the picture. Often we are asked: “Can I collect unemployment while I on workers’ compensation?” The answer, unfortunately is – It depends.
The Workers’ Compensation Law is a State law that only covers certain losses caused by a work injury – but not all of them. There are other laws that may also cover the situation in which injured and disabled workers find themselves.
Unemployment Insurance provides lost wages to employees who have lost their job for no fault of their own. It is a state-mandated insurance program that requires employers to pay taxes on the pay of its employees. If an employee loses his or her job for no fault of their own – then unemployment will pay a portion of the lost wages. In order to be covered, typically the worker must have been employed for six months or longer.
There are three situations were unemployment benefits can help injured workers:
1. After Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Once the authorized treating physician place you MMI your right to lost wages under the Workers’ Compensation ends. You can and should apply for unemployment when the carrier officially terminates lost wages by filing a Final Admission of Liability.
2. During Treatment with no restrictions. If you are off work while treating, but the authorized treating physician has released you back to regular duty – you can get unemployment benefits. If you are later given restrictions, it is important to temporarily stop unemployment benefits and go back on lost wages through workers’ compensation.
3. While your claim is denied. You can receive unemployment while off work with restrictions if your workers’ compensation claim is denied. However, if you are successful in getting your claim accepted, the workers’ compensation carrier can deduct what you received in employment benefits from what it has to pay you in lost wage benefits. Because this reduces your benefits – you should only do this if you have no other options.
With some planning and legal advice, injured workers should be able to maximize their lost wage benefits under workers’ compensation and unemployment laws. The intersection between workers’ compensation and your employment rights is a complicated matter that varies with each case. At Kaplan Morrell we have pursued our clients’ employment rights in State and Federal Court. You need the support and experience of a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Contact us here or call us at 303-780-7329 for your free legal consultation.