The intersection of workers’ compensation and
We are often asked how workers’ compensation interacts with unemployment benefits. The main question is:
Can I get unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time?
In this article, we will address this common question, as well as other similar questions, about unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation in Georgia.
Am I entitled to workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits?
Injured workers often find themselves out of work after their injury. The reason for their job-loss varies. The injured worker may be out of work for reasons directly related to their accident. For example, the employee’s doctor may direct him or her not to work at all.
Alternatively, the injured worker may be assigned light-duty restrictions their employer cannot accommodate. Factors unrelated to the injury, such as a lay-off or termination, may also result in loss of employment.
Injured employees experiencing job-loss must determine the type of benefits to which they are entitled, and whether to apply.
If I’m injured and can’t work, can I get unemployment benefits?
Georgia’s injury law can be confusing. On top of that, dealing with government agencies and insurance companies can be a lot, especially for workers who are already stressed from their injuries.
One big question many have is: Can they get unemployment benefits if they can’t return to work because of their injury? The link between workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits isn’t always clear-cut and can depend on each person’s situation.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about both:
Workers’ compensation eligibility requirements
In general, if an employee is out of work due to their work-related injury, then he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The employee’s work restrictions need to be documented by their authorized doctor. If the employee is assigned light-duty work restrictions, their employer has the opportunity to accommodate those work restrictions by offering a light-duty job.
Unemployment benefits eligibility requirements
In general, if an employee loses his or her job due to factors that are not their fault (such as a lay-off or downsizing), he or she is entitled to unemployment benefits. When applying for unemployment benefits, the applicant must certify that he or she is “ready, willing, and able to work.”
Depending on the severity of the employee’s injury, he or she may not be able to sign this statement. An injured worker should discuss their unemployment benefit application with their attorney before signing this statement. If your injury is too severe to qualify for unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits instead.
Can I get both unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits?
As in many other states, Georgia’s unemployment law states an injured worker cannot receive unemployment benefits while also receiving temporary total disability (benefits paid to employees who are totally out of work) or temporary partial disability (benefits paid to employees who are partially out of work).
In other words, an employee currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits is NOT eligible for unemployment benefits.
However, many injured workers have to fight in order to obtain their workers’ compensation benefits. While waiting for their court date, the injured worker can apply for unemployment benefits. If the injured worker receives unemployment benefits, he or she will at least obtain some financial assistance while waiting to receive their workers’ compensation benefits.
If an injured worker is successful in obtaining workers’ compensation benefits after already receiving unemployment benefits, their employer could receive a credit for the unemployment benefits already paid to the injured worker. However, for their employer to receive this credit, they must follow specific guidelines in the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Unemployment credits: Is the insurance company following the rules?
Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act states an employer is entitled to a credit for the unemployment benefits paid to an injured worker if they timely file the correct form (WC-243) with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-243). If the employer files this form properly, the employee will only be entitled to the difference between what they received in unemployment benefits and what they are granted in workers’ compensation benefits.
Let’s look at an example:
Bill receives unemployment benefits of $300 per week while fighting to receive his workers’ compensation benefits of $400 per week. Bill wins his workers’ compensation case at the rate of $400 per week. If Bill’s employer properly filed a WC-243 form, then Bill’s employer will only owe him $100 per week for the weeks Bill drew unemployment benefits. ($400 minus $300 = $100)
To be able to take this credit, however, the injured worker’s employer must correctly complete and file a WC-243 form with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation within 10 days before the workers’ compensation hearing. The employer also has to send a copy of the form to the injured workers’ attorney, or the injured worker if he/she is unrepresented. (Board Rule 243)
In practice, some employers fail to file the correct form in time with the State Board. Even if filed, they may make errors completing the form, or fail to serve a copy to the employee and/or the employee’s attorney.
An experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney at Gerber & Holder Law can determine whether or not your employer is entitled to the credit they are claiming.
Should you apply for unemployment and/or workers’ compensation benefits?
We’ve provided the general rules regarding workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. In practice, each case presents a unique set of circumstances. If you have been injured on the job and are determining whether to apply for workers’ compensation and/or unemployment benefits, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Gerber & Holder to discuss your case. We will be happy to provide a free case evaluation to determine the best strategy for your case.