A lot of clients have this question. Frustration often sets in immediately after the injury, but can be made worse if the injured employee feels she is not being treated fairly at work, is not receiving TTD (pay for being out of work) benefits, receiving TTD benefits, or their employer is not following their work restriction. Many times I have heard from clients that their employer/ co-workers are harassing them about being injured, that they cannot survive on 66 and 2/3% of what they were making, or that their employer is requiring them to work beyond the restrictions given by their doctor. These problems led to the question, “can I find a new job?”
In short, my answer is usually “yes.” However, I always have to warn my clients that looking for a new job requires an understanding of three very important things: 1) if you quit your job, you are no longer entitled to TTD benefits; 2) your new job must fall within your work restrictions; and 3) you need to let the workers’ compensation insurance company know about the new job.
No longer eligible for TTD benefits?!
An injured employee is entitled to TTD benefits when their employer either has no light duty work, that complies with the doctor’s work restrictions, or when the injured employee is taken off work completely for a period of time by the doctor. TTD benefits are paid at 66 and 2/3% of the injured worker’s average monthly wage. The benefits continue to be paid until either the doctor releases the injured worker to work “full duty” or until the employer offers a light duty job position that complies with the doctor’s work restrictions.
If an injured employee voluntarily takes themselves out of the work force by either quitting or going on FMLA leave, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster can stop TTD benefits.
My new job has to know I was injured at work?!
Yes. If an injured worker gets a new job, while they have work restrictions from a workplace injury at another job, the injured worker cannot work outside of those work restrictions for a new employer. An injured worker must notify the new employer of any work restrictions they may have to be sure the new job will not exceed them. Working outside your work restrictions can negatively impact a workers’ compensation claim in the following ways: 1) give an adjuster reasons to deny further treatment, 2) give an adjuster a reason to issue claim closure, and 3) give an adjuster a reason to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation insurance fraud with the Attorney General’s office.
I need to tell my adjuster about the new job?!
Yes. The workers’ compensation insurance company needs to know about the new job for two reasons, 1) so that they can stop TTD benefits, and 2) so they can confirm you are working within your work restrictions. An injured worker cannot both collect TTD benefits and work a new job, doing so may cause an adjuster to file a claim for fraud.
An example of when an injured worker can look for/ take a new job is:
A construction worker gets hurt at work and is placed on restrictions by a doctor making him no longer able to perform his typical work duties. The injured construction worker shows his work restrictions to his employer, who then says he has no light duty work. (The injured construction worker then is eligible for TTD benefits.) The injured construction worker finds an add for a call center that pays more than his TTD benefits do. The injured construction worker interviews with the call center and informs them that he is only allowed light duty work and cannot lift more than 10lbs. The call center says that is fine. The injured construction worker then quits with the construction company and starts working for the call center. The injured “former” construction work then calls and notifies his workers’ compensation insurance adjuster that he is working a new job that falls within his work restrictions.