The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reported the average weekly wage in 2023 for workers’ compensation calculations was $1,273. For many people, this is much lower than what they are typically making while working a job.
Due to this, receiving a job offer while on workers’ compensation benefits can be tempting. However, it is important to understand how this may impact your existing benefits and your legal obligations.
Keep your health in mind
When you are on workers’ compensation, it implies that you are unable to perform your regular job duties due to a work-related injury. In such cases, the primary focus should be on your recovery and rehabilitation.
You should not report to work in any capacity until you get approval from your doctor. It is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that returning to work will not exacerbate your injury or hinder your rehabilitation process.
Steps to take
Upon receiving a job offer, you should promptly notify both your employer and the workers’ compensation insurer regardless of whether you will take the job. Transparency is essential in this situation. Inform your employer about the offer, the position, the expected start date and the proposed job duties. Likewise, notify your workers’ compensation insurer about the offer and provide them with all relevant details.
Understand the impact on benefits
In Pennsylvania, the law stipulates that if you receive an offer of employment that is within your physical capabilities and vocational restrictions, it may impact your entitlement to wage loss benefits. The insurer may conduct a labor market survey to determine if the job offer is suitable for you.
If the insurer determines that the offer is suitable and you refuse it without a valid reason, your workers’ compensation benefits may terminate. However, if you can provide legitimate reasons for declining the job offer, such as medical restrictions, you might be able to maintain your benefits.
Assessing the offer
Before accepting or declining, you should assess the offer. It should be within your physical capabilities. Also, it should be within a reasonable distance from your home. If the new job’s location significantly increases your commuting time and expenses, this can be a valid reason to decline the offer without jeopardizing your workers’ compensation benefits.
You should also think about your ability to perform the new job effectively, particularly if the position differs significantly from your pre-injury occupation. If this is the case, it is advisable to consult with a vocational expert who can assess whether the job offer aligns with your skills and capabilities.
Receiving a job offer while you are on workers’ compensation can have implications for your benefits. Transparency and adhering to legal obligations are essential in such situations.