Can You Work While On Workers' Compensation in NC?

person working with a work injury

Can I Work While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?

North Carolina law requires almost all employers with more than three employees to carry workers’ comp insurance coverage. Workers’ compensation benefits serve two main purposes:

  • They help workers access the medical care and financial support they need after an on-the-job injury.
  • They are also meant to help employees return to work as soon as possible, if possible.

Much of the time, injured employees who receive workers’ comp benefits make full recoveries and then return to work. However, some injured workers may be authorized to return to work before they have fully recovered. In other cases, workers’ comp recipients may wish to pursue alternative employment or second jobs while they are still receiving benefits.

At Poisson, Poisson, & Bower PLLC, our attorneys work with many people who are struggling to make ends meet after a workplace injury. If you have questions about whether you can work while receiving workers’ compensation in North Carolina, contact us today for a free case review. We are Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law.

What You Need to Know About Light-Duty Work

In many cases, on-the-job injuries can impair workers to the point that they cannot return to work in any meaningful capacity until they recover. However, sometimes treating physicians determine that a recovering worker can return to work with certain limitations such as restrictions on physical activity.

If your employer can accommodate these restrictions by assigning you light-duty work for the length of your recovery period, you are required to report to work under most circumstances. If you refuse to take on light-duty work even though you are physically capable of performing it, you may forego your right to continue receiving workers’ comp benefits. You should contact an attorney early in your case, before light-duty work is offered, so that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the return to work process and tell you if you should accept the light-duty employment or not.

While you are performing light-duty work, you may not be able to earn the same wages you were paid in your usual role. If this is the case, you may be entitled to receive a portion of your lost wages from supplemental workers’ comp benefits called partial disability benefits.

If your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions by providing light-duty work, you may not be able to return to work at all. Another option could be a trial return to work, during which you could attempt to return to your previous role while you and your doctor monitor your ability to work successfully. If this trial return is unsuccessful, you may be able to continue receiving full workers’ comp benefits.

What You Need to Know About Having a Second Job or Side Work

Even if you obtain the full amount of any workers’ comp benefits you are owed, the most you can recover is two-thirds of your average pre-injury wages for the 52 weeks prior to your injury, up to a statewide maximum of $1,102 per week as of 2021. This could be a substantial decrease in your take-home pay, which may leave you wondering whether you can earn additional money with a second job while you recover.

Unfortunately, if you say you are unable to perform your primary job to claim workers’ compensation benefits, you may damage your claim if you try to land a second job. A workers’ comp insurance carrier could argue that your second income stream means you aren’t as disabled as you say, even if your second job is more compatible with your injuries. They could seek to reduce or even terminate your benefits.

When you file for workers’ compensation, you are legally required to report all sources of income you have while also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffer a work-related injury and you have another source of income already, make sure to report the job and your wages to the insurance provider and to your lawyer.

What You Need to Know About Changing Jobs While on Workers’ Comp

While you are out of work due to a job-related injury, you may consider changing jobs for several reasons. You may want to avoid the risk of similar injuries in the future. You may believe you can no longer perform your previous job. Or you may simply wish for a change of pace. However, there are some things you should know before you consider changing jobs while you are still receiving workers’ comp benefits. You should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before you tell anyone you are considering changing jobs so that you can be properly advised on the risks and benefits of such a move.

The legal team at Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, specializes in workers’ compensation cases, and we will do everything we can to protect your benefits.

Talk to a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, is a family-run law firm with Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of workers’ comp claims in Wilmington, Wadesboro, and throughout North Carolina. We understand the challenges and complexities associated with many workers’ comp cases, and we are committed to assisting you every step of the way.

Whether you are considering light-duty work or a second job, you deserve the relief of financial security as you recover from your injuries. To find out more about how we can help with your case, contact us today for a free initial consultation.