We wanted to take an opportunity to address a timely topic, which is if you’ve been injured on the job, should you apply for unemployment? Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit complicated so dive right in.
When you’re injured on the job here in Colorado, there are two stages.
There’s your treatment stage which is where you’ve recently been injured, the doctors are trying to get you better and have given you a certain set of restrictions. Then, there will usually be a time when the doctors take you off of restrictions and/or you’ve been placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI). The law is that when you’ve got restrictions, you’re treating, and you’re off work because of the injury, you’re entitled to checks every two weeks for being off of work. This is called temporary total disability.
If during this time you apply for unemployment a few things are going to happen.
First, the unemployment office is going to say you do not qualify for unemployment. They’ll discard your application. But, what happens if the doctor says you’re at maximum medical improvement or says they’re still trying to treat you to get better but is going to remove your restrictions and now your employer, for whatever reason (i.e. the COVID-19 pandemic) your employer doesn’t have work for you anymore? At that point, the checks stop coming. Because you no longer have restrictions at that point then yes, you’d want to apply for unemployment and that way you’ve got money coming in to be able to pay for rent, food, etc.
Where it gets a little (more) complicated is when you’re injured, you’ve got restrictions, but for some reason, the insurance company isn’t sending you a wage loss check.
This could be due to a denied claim, or maybe you’ve got a claim but the employer hasn’t notified the insurance company at that point. You might think the right call is to apply for unemployment. What we advise our clients, particularly ones whose case is being denied, but we’re fighting to get it covered, is to hold off on filing for unemployment if at all possible.
If you apply for unemployment and get unemployment checks during this time, then at a later time the worker’s compensation carrier decides to admit liability, you would think that they would have to pay you the benefits that they’d have to pay you. Right? Not so fast. In this scenario, the law says workers comp can say that, because you’ve already received unemployment, they can take their benefits back and only pay you for the time in which you did not get unemployment.
However, if you hold on and wait for the insurance company to admit liability and pay you lost wages, then you save up your bank of unemployment so that if and when you do get placed at maximum medical improvement, or don’t have restrictions, then you can take the unemployment benefit and use it here so that you get all the money and not just part of it.
As always, managing a workers’ compensation claim is very difficult.
Managing a workers’ compensation claim and unemployment together is really difficult. For that reason, if you’ve been injured on the job in Colorado, please contact us at Kaplan Morrell by phone at (970) 356-9898 or feel free to reach out to us here on Facebook as well as our website.