Unemployment and workers comp are benefits you can usually get if you are unable to work. But can you get both at the same time?
The short answer is, yes. It’s possible to collect unemployment and workers comp simultaneously. But this usually only applies to specific circumstances. In most cases, people who qualify for workers comp won’t qualify for unemployment benefits. While claiming unemployment benefits may affect your eligibility for workers comp.
To better gauge your chances of getting both unemployment and workers comp benefits at the same time, we created this quick guide.
Unemployment vs. Workers Comp
The first thing you need to remember is that unemployment and workers comp are two very different programs. They are governed by separate laws and therefore have different eligibility criteria. They also differ in purpose and benefit amount.
Unemployment benefits are designed for people who are willing and able to work but cannot find a paying job. It’s a temporary aid meant to assist someone while they are looking for a more permanent working arrangement.
Workers compensation, on the other hand, are for those who can’t work due to a work-related disability. This can either be temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the injury.
Workers comp is implemented at the state level. So the eligibility criteria can vary from state to state. But in general, to qualify for workers comp, you must:
- be employed
- have workers comp coverage
- have a work-related injury or disability
For unemployment benefits, you’ll qualify if:
- you’re unemployed through no fault of your own
- you’re capable of working
- you are actively looking for work
Like workers comp, unemployment benefits are also administered on a state level. So some states have more specific requirements than others.
Unemployment benefits are publicly funded. Meaning, they are paid for by the state. Since each state have different rules, unemployment benefit amounts can also vary. Your base period wages will also be used to determine your unemployment benefits.
On average, most people receive $378 unemployment benefits a week. In Florida, however, the maximum amount you can get is $275 per week.
As for workers compensation, it will include medical and wage loss benefits. So the amount usually depends on:
- the severity of your injury
- the average weekly wage from before you got injured
- how long you’ll have to be away from work
Your medical benefits will cover all expenses necessary for your recovery. While lost wages are usually at 66 ⅓% of your average weekly wage depending on your injury.
Why It’s Hard to Collect Unemployment While on Workers Comp
While it’s possible to collect unemployment while on workers comp, it’s easier said than done.
As mentioned, you’ll only qualify for unemployment if you are able and willing to work. But to receive workers comp, you must be able to prove that your injury prevents you from working. This contradiction often prevents injured workers from claiming both unemployment and workers comp.
On the other hand, getting approved for unemployment means that you are capable of working. If your employer or insurance company gets wind of this, they can use it to decline your workers comp claim. Or if you’re already collecting workers comp, they may sue you for fraud.
When Can You Claim Unemployment and Workers Comp at the Same Time?
Though getting both workers comp and unemployment is difficult, it’s doable in certain cases.
In general, you can only get unemployment and workers comp at the same time if:
- you’re fired from the job you had before your injury
- you can’t go back to the kind of work you were doing before your injury
You see, getting injured at work doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t work anymore. Sometimes, an injured worker may still work though they can’t go back to the work they were doing before they got injured.
For instance, let’s say you were working in construction when you hurt your back in an accident at work. Your injury prevents you from lifting heavy objects or doing extensive physical work. Obviously, you can’t go back to doing construction work anymore. But you can still work a light duty job like recording inventories or monitoring security cameras.
Your employer, however, is not legally required to hold your position for you. So if they don’t have any light duty jobs to give you, they might fire you.
Because you were injured at work, you can claim workers compensation benefits. It doesn’t matter if you’re fired from your job. It won’t affect your eligibility for workers comp under most circumstances.
But since you were fired from your job, it means you’re now unemployed. While looking for another job that can accommodate your condition, you may apply for unemployment benefits. If your claim is approved, you’ll be receiving both unemployment and workers comp. However, in Florida Worker’s Compensation insurance carrier can reduce the amount they pay you dollar for dollar by the about to receive unemployment.
That said, receiving temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits usually prevents you from claiming unemployment. You’ll only receive these types of workers comp if your disability prevents you from doing any type or if you can work with restrictions. Claiming unemployment means you’re still able to work and if you are on a no-work status then you’re not entitled to unemployment.
(Related: Workers Comp Vs. Disability Benefits: What’s The Difference?)
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.