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Q:
Is it possible to continue collecting workers’ compensation benefits, even if I decline an employment offer?

A:

An employee’s ability to reject an employment offer while still qualifying for workers’ compensation depends on the nature of the job being offered. Workers are never obligated to accept a job they don’t want, but rejecting a job offer may result in the termination of workers’ compensation benefits.

Light-Duty Jobs

During the early stages of workers’ compensation, employees frequently need time off from work to recover from their injuries. In addition to payments for medical recovery, they can receive wage loss, or temporary total disability, benefits. These benefits are paid to workers when their injuries prevent them from returning to a former position while they are healing.

An employer may try to minimize this wage loss by providing a light-duty position compatible with the employee’s work restrictions. This is often the same position the worker held previously, minus any physically demanding tasks, but it may be a different job entirely. The income from this job can reduce the workers’ compensation benefits that must be paid, ultimately lowering the employer’s insurance premiums.

Accepting or Rejecting a Light-Duty Job Offer

Accepting light-duty work doesn’t necessarily result in the termination of temporary income benefits. If 70 percent of an employee’s gross weekly earnings are less than 70 percent of his gross average weekly wage prior to his injury, he may be entitled to partial income benefits to cover the difference. If the worker finds his light-duty job too taxing due to his injuries, he can most likely have his temporary income benefits reinstated.

Rejecting light-duty work may have a negative impact on workers’ compensation benefits. Temporary total disability benefits may be eliminated if a worker chooses to reject an offer of light-duty employment that is consistent with his work restrictions.

Keeping Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you’ve been injured on the job, you’re entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Hiring an experienced attorney to defend your work limits may be key to maximizing your benefits. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.

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