Sometimes having more than one job is the best way to get by in this economy. But managing multiple jobs can prove difficult after you suffer an on-the-job injury. You have access to workers’ compensation benefits after a work injury, but can you have a new job while receiving workers’ comp benefits in New Jersey? You can, but you have to be careful, or you could risk reduction or elimination of your benefits.
The best way to maintain a new job and benefits from a workers’ compensation claim is to seek guidance from an experienced attorney. Petro Cohen, P.C. is a full-service workers’ compensation law firm, and we provide exceptional legal services for injured workers.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Receive in New Jersey?
If you suffer an injury while working, the benefits you can receive from workers’ comp in New Jersey include:
- Medical care – any medical care you receive must be reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury;
- Temporary total disability benefits – this is a replacement of 70% of your wages when you are unable to work and are receiving medical care;
- Permanent partial disability benefits – these benefits compensate you for any diminished capacity you suffer after you heal as much as possible from your injury; and
- Permanent total disability benefits – these benefits compensate you when you are unable to earn a living because of your work injury.
Your wages and duties at a new job can have significant effects on the benefits you receive. These effects can be positive and negative, so it is important to thoroughly consider many factors before working at a new job.
Factors to Consider When Taking a New Job
Working a new job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits from a current employer can be enticing. However, you should weigh the benefits and consequences carefully before you take on a new employer. The pros and cons can differ depending on your specific circumstances. Let’s take a look at the basic questions you should ask.
What Light Duty Work Is Available at Your Current Job?
Your receipt of temporary total disability benefits depends on your inability to do any work at your current job. You are unable to work if your job responsibilities exceed the work restrictions your medical provider requires you to follow. If your current employer offers you light duty work that is within your restrictions, you need to take it. If you refuse a light duty job from your current employer and opt for a new job instead, you run the risk of losing your benefits.
What Are Your Duties and Obligations at Your New Job?
Before taking your new job, make sure that all of your new job duties are within the restrictions your doctor has given you. If you exceed your restrictions while working a new job, your current employer could accuse you of workers’ compensation fraud. Workers’ compensation fraud occurs when you misrepresent a material fact to receive claim benefits. The punishments for this type of fraud are severe, including criminal penalties.
Does the Additional Pay from Your New Job Truly Increase or Replace Your Income?
Workers whose injuries prevent them from working for their regular employer receive a replacement of only 70% of their wages. You might be seeking a less demanding job to make up the remaining 30% of your wages, but there are two things to keep in mind:
- Workers’ compensation benefits are generally not taxable and
- Workers’ compensation reduces your temporary total disability benefits by any amount you receive from another job.
If the taxable wages from your new job do little more than reduce your tax-free workers’ compensation benefits, your new job might not be worth the effort.
How Close Are You to Maximum Medical Improvement?
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) means that your medical condition is stable, and there is no additional treatment you can receive to improve your condition. Once you reach MMI, your temporary total disability benefits stop, and you can receive permanent disability benefits for any lasting impairment.
If you are close to MMI, taking a new job can eliminate your chances of receiving permanent total disability benefits because you are able to work. And a new job can reduce your permanent partial disability benefits because your new job duties might place your level of impairment in doubt.
Are You Prepared to Include Your New Employer in Workers’ Compensation Litigation?
If you accept a new job while receiving workers’ comp benefits from a current employer, you run the risk of your current employer disputing your entitlement to benefits. Many employers and employees resolve benefits disputes with hearings. Because your new job affects workers’ compensation benefits from your current job, your new employer might have to participate in a hearing.
If you are not prepared to involve another employer in a workers’ compensation dispute, you might be better off forgoing a new job. However, sometimes taking a new job is the right choice. If you want to make the right decision, speak to an experienced attorney about your options.
Call the Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys at Petro Cohen
Petro Cohen, P.C. has assisted injured workers in South Jersey for decades. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head and Senior Partner Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola, and Terri Hiles, and attorneys Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney by calling 888-675-7607. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.