When can injured workers legally work while collecting workers’ comp benefits?
Workers in Georgia are entitled to file for workers’ compensation benefits if they’re injured on the job and are unable to work. But what happens if an injured worker continues to work while collecting these benefits? In some instances, this could raise questions about disability fraud, which is what happened recently to Yellowstone actress Q’orianka Kilcher.
Kilcher, 32, suffered injuries to her neck and right shoulder while working on the set of the movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold. She filed a workers’ compensation claim to collect benefits while she was unable to work for an extended period during 2019.
So when the California Department of Insurance suddenly announced charges of felony workers’ compensation disability fraud against her for collecting workers’ comp benefits while she was working on the Paramount TV series Yellowstone, Kilcher said she felt blindsided.
Once the allegations surfaced, the actress turned herself in and went on to face arraignment. At her arraignment, she pleaded not guilty. During her disability period spanning nearly 2 years, she collected nearly $97,000.
An investigation was opened into the situation, but it was determined that kilcher ultimately did nothing wrong. as of february this year, the los angeles county district attorney’s office has dismissed all the charges against her.
Her case raises questions about a worker’s right to earn a living while recovering from an injury. So let’s look at what the law says about working while collecting benefits in Georgia.
Are you allowed to work while collecting workers’ comp in Georgia?
Attorney Christopher Gifford answers whether you can work while receiving workers’
compensation in this informative video. Learn more
In Georgia as well as many other states, you’re generally not allowed to work while collecting workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a work-related injury or illness. However, the laws are complex, so there is often a gray area regarding your rights during this time.
Just like with situations where someone who suffers a disability collects Social Security benefits or other government benefits, you are urged to refrain from any overly strenuous activities while on workers’ comp. Many recipients of other benefits have faced accusations of Social Security fraud or government benefits fraud after being caught performing strenuous activities in their leisure time.
To be clear, in most instances, injured workers are only allowed to work while receiving workers’ comp benefits if a doctor clears them to perform light work duties. This can occur if their employer is able to modify their regular work duties to comply with their doctor-ordered work restrictions. In that situation, a worker’s benefits are reduced as they earn money in their modified position.
What factors affect whether you’re allowed to work while receiving workers’ comp?
Some workers who suffer injuries on the job may find that their workers’ comp benefits aren’t enough to pay their monthly bills and may want to find a way to supplement their income. Certain factors can affect whether a person is allowed to work a second job while recovering from their injuries from their main job. They include the following:
- Whether the duties of the job will exacerbate their injury
- Whether the job is less physically demanding than their main job
- Whether earning money from a job will impact the amount of benefits recovered from workers’ comp
If you have 2 jobs and are injured at 1 of them, can you keep working at the other while receiving workers’ comp?
In some cases, if you have a second job that has duties unrelated to those that led to your injuries, you are allowed to continue working in that position. However, in most cases, people who suffer on-the-job injuries may have to stop any and all work while recuperating.
If you’re unsure about your situation, your best course of action is to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney who can explain your legal rights.
What are the potential consequences of working while receiving workers’ comp benefits?
If you’re caught working while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, you could be accused of a disability benefits scam and face certain consequences. As in Kilcher’s case, workers suspected of fraud are likely to face an investigation with the aim of uncovering the facts about your case.
If found guilty, you could end up being subjected to fines, restitution payments for the workers’ comp benefits you received, and even prison time.
Georgia’s workers’ comp rules are complicated. Learn what the law says about switching jobs while on workers’ comp so you don’t lose your compensation.
Contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Workers’ compensation laws are complex, so it’s always best to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer guide you through the process to ensure you don’t make any costly mistakes.
If you live in Atlanta and have any questions or concerns about workers’ compensation or you just need help filing a claim, contact Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys today. Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience helping injured workers across Georgia recover the compensation they deserve.