If you are allowed to work while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, you must report your earnings.
Misrepresenting one’s job status while collecting temporary disability benefits constitutes workers’ compensation fraud.
Reasons That People Want to Have an Income While Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you were hurt on the job and cannot continue to perform the same type of work, your workers’ compensation benefits could help pay some of your bills, but usually not all of them. Often, your workers’ compensation check is only a portion of your usual paycheck, such as two-thirds of your average earnings, and only up to your state’s maximum allowed amount.
If you require more than that, you could struggle while out of work from a job-related injury. As the weeks and months go by with this unplanned reduction in your income, paying the rent or mortgage and putting food on the table could get increasingly difficult. People often get desperate for ways to bring in a little additional money to prevent getting evicted, having the utilities shut off, or lowering their credit score.
Factors that Affect Whether You Can Work While on Workers’ Compensation
If you had a second job before you got hurt, you might want to continue working there. Some people look for a new part-time job to pay the bills. You should confirm whether working your existing side job or starting a new one will impact your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
Factors to keep in mind include:
- Whether the second job will aggravate your injuries
- Whether you will be allowed to work at a job that is less physically demanding than the position you had when you got injured
- Working any kind of paying job while collecting workers’ compensation benefits will reduce the amount of benefits you can receive
Some people feel as if they are between a rock and a hard place, so they take the risk of getting paid under the table at a second job. Doing so is illegal and risky, though. If you get caught working and not reporting your income, you could get charged with workers’ compensation fraud.
Possible Consequences of Getting Caught Working While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits because of an injury that prevents you from working and you get caught performing similar work, you might get accused of fraud and have to pay a fine or restitution. You could even get sentenced to time in prison.
You could face penalties whether you work for a private employer or a government agency. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts criminal, civil, and administrative investigations of federal laws, rules, or regulations violations related to DOL programs, grants, contracts, and operations.
The DOL’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) – Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP) investigates allegations of:
- Intentionally failing to disclose income or employment that one receiving workers’ compensation must report
- Knowingly providing false or fraudulent medical information
- Falsely claiming to be injured or disabled
The OIG also investigates medical professionals who participate in fraudulent workers’ compensation schemes.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud Is Risky
In our online world today, it is easier than ever to get caught working while on workers’ compensation benefits. For example:
- Your boss, a coworker, a customer, or someone else could submit an anonymous tip about your employment to your state’s workers’ compensation official.
- You might get recorded on surveillance video while working.
- Someone who does not know that you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits might post on social media a photo or video of you working or a comment about you working.
These are but a few examples of how easy it is to get caught working while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to the federal government investigating allegations of workers’ compensation fraud, state law enforcement agencies, like the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud in Florida, have multiple squads that focus on these cases.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Could Help You Stay in Compliance With the Rules
Navigating the workers’ compensation process can be complicated and confusing. Since state laws vary significantly, many people have misconceptions about how the system works and what they may and may not do while collecting workers’ compensation benefits.
If you had another job before you got injured, you might be able to continue working there under some circumstances. Also, you might also be able to take on a new job while you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to understand the rules in your state and comply with them so you do not get charged with fraud and face serious penalties.
Getting Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
A workers’ compensation lawyer with our firm can tell you what you need to know and guide you through the process of filing a claim and appealing the decision if your claim is denied. Also, an attorney can explain the consequences if you get caught working while on workers’ compensation.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC represents clients throughout the United States who suffered serious injuries on the job. A member of our team can work with you to help you follow your state’s laws. Call our office today at (800) 603-4224.