If you’re out of work after an on-the-job injury, you might wonder: Can you get workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits at the same time?
The answer depends on several factors, like your condition, whether you’re looking for a new job, and where you live. While some states have rules preventing people from benefiting from workers’ comp and unemployment at the same time, your state might allow it under certain circumstances.
In this article, we’ll describe the unique situations that allow you to get these benefits simultaneously and how to go about procuring them in the most systematic fashion.
Qualifications for Workers’ Comp vs. Unemployment Benefits
Before we dive into the details regarding how you can qualify for workers’ comp and unemployment benefits at the same time, it will help you understand why it normally doesn’t happen.
To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you must have sustained an injury or illness while on the job. Your employer’s workers’ comp insurance covers your medical expenses and, depending on your injury and its effect on your earning capacity, provides temporary or permanent disability benefits.
The purpose of workers’ comp is to help pay for medical treatment for a work injury and provide support in case you can’t return to your usual job duties.
As for unemployment benefits, you’re only eligible if you lost your job through no fault of your own and are actively looking for a new one. In most states, unemployment benefits last up to 26 weeks.
Therefore, the only way to receive both workers’ comp and unemployment benefits is if you have a work-related injury that prevents you from returning to your previous job but are looking for a new job that you can perform despite your condition.
When Can You Qualify For Both Workers’ Comp and Unemployment Benefits?
As we mentioned previously, the overlap of unemployment and workers’ comp benefits is very small. While you’re receiving workers’ comp benefits, your employer legally can’t fire you in retaliation, so you still hold on to your position in most cases.
Even if you can’t work for a certain period because of your injury, you’ll return to your job as soon as you recover. Your doctor might determine that you’re unable to do any work, meaning you’ll qualify for temporary or permanent total disability benefits.
If you’re not available to work, you won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits since looking for a job is a requirement for receiving your weekly check.
So, under what circumstances can you receive both types of benefits?
While Receiving Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
One of the ways you might qualify for both workers’ comp and unemployment benefits is if your employer’s insurance provider awards you temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits provide financial assistance when you can’t return to your regular job but can perform light duties according to your doctor.
If your employer can’t offer appropriate work, you might be able to collect TPD and unemployment benefits while searching for a job you’re able to do despite the disability in question.
Some states limit the total amount you can receive from unemployment and workers’ comp simultaneously. These limitations might include deducting your unemployment benefits from your workers’ comp check to ensure you aren’t receiving more income than before your work injury.
While Receiving Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Once you reach maximum medical improvement, which is the stage where you’ve recovered as much as possible from medical treatments, your doctor will inform the workers’ comp insurance provider whether you have permanent limitations due to your injury.
If you have permanent disabilities that prevent you from returning to your job but can still work with some limitations, you might qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. You might have to get a new job, in which case you can apply for unemployment benefits in the meantime.
During a Workers’ Comp Claim Dispute
Your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company might deny your claim, but you can dispute their decision. While it’s not exactly simultaneous, you could receive unemployment benefits while challenging the denial.
However, if you end up getting the award for workers’ comp benefits that cover the same period, your state’s laws might require reimbursement in the form of a deduction in the amount you received for unemployment benefits.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
So, can you get workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits at the same time? In rare circumstances, yes.
The complexities involved in workers’ compensation claims and unemployment benefits can be confusing, and you might miss out on compensation you’re entitled to if you aren’t sure what steps to take.
Call Rios Law Firm PLLC at 602-237-6265 to speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney about your rights in Arizona.