One common question that workers raise following an on-the-job injury is whether they can change jobs, and what impact a job change will have on their worker's compensation benefits.
Worker's compensation benefits are not tied to continued employment, meaning that workers are able to change jobs while continuing to receive their benefits. However, there are some issues that workers should consider when making a job change.
If you receive a job offer while receiving workers compensation benefits and are not on leave due to your injury, you're in the same position as any other person who is changing jobs.
- You can give your notice, change jobs, and start working for your new employer.
- If your injury worsens or you need additional treatment, your rights remain the same as they would have been had you never changed jobs.
If you are off of work due to your injury at the time you find a new job, you should discuss your medical condition with your medical care providers. Be careful not to accept a new job if it is likely that you will later find that you are unable to perform the job due to your injury. Your premature return to work, or the acceptance of work that exceeds your capacity as you recover from an injury or surgery, may potentially complicate your workers compensation case.
To the extent possible, work with your treating doctors to verify that your new job is safe to accept, and that your job duties will be consistent with any medical restrictions they have imposed.
When returning to work:
Inform Workers Comp: If you are receiving temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, you should contact the workers compensation insurance company and let your adjuster know that you are accepting a job, what it pays and when you start.
Complete and Return an Paperwork: Ask the adjuster if you need to submit any documentation of the job change. If the adjuster says that you must return documentation, ask the adjuster to send you copies of the paperwork, then complete and return the paperwork.
If you will be earning significantly less at the new job than at the job you held when injured, you may be eligible for a partial wage loss benefit. It is a good idea to consult a workers compensation lawyer in your state before taking a new job at a significantly lower wage.
When a worker who is recovering from a job injury relocates to another state, the worker should keep in mind that every state's workers' compensation system is separate.
Between restrictions on choice of doctor, the often low compensation paid for worker's compensation treatments, and the paperwork involved, it can be very difficult to find a doctor in a new state of residence who will accept payment through out-of-state workers compensation insurance.
Workers who have experienced a significant injury should try to find caregivers in their new state of residence before they relocate, or make sure that they have a plan in place that will allow them to receive continuing care in the state in which they were injured.
Before moving to another state:
Notify Your Workers Comp Insurer: Make sure that the workers compensation insurance company has current contact information. If you are receiving payments, make sure to update any direct deposit information if you are changing banks.
Identify Care Providers: Seek care providers in your new state, and see if they will accept payment under workers compensation in the state in which you were injured. Your workers compensation insurance company may be able to identify some providers who accept or have in the past accepted cases from your state. Some workers comp adjusters may be able to provide an out-of-state provider list, a list of approved, participating medical care providers in the new state.
Get Authorization for Treatment: Make sure that you have written authorization for treatment with the out-of-state providers that you identify. Don't settle for oral promises - get it in writing.
Provide Your Relevant Medical Records: In order to avoid delays, as you commence treatment in the new state, be prepared to provide your new caregivers with copies of the medical records they will need to understand your diagnosis and to provide care. Unless you are assured that they don't need the forms, offer the claim forms each time you utilize a provider's services.
Provide Copies of Claim Forms: Help your caregivers in your new state by providing them with copies of the claim forms that they need to submit a claim for compensation to the out-of-state workers compensation carrier.
Even with diligent planning, it may at times be necessary to be evaluated in the state in which the injury occurred. For example, you may be required to undergo an evaluation in order to get a permanent impairment rating. Such an examination may be costly and cumbersome to obtain after you relocate, but may be necessary in order to ensure continued workers compensation benefits.