Sadly, many businesses are closing temporarily or permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving millions of Americans anxious about their jobs and whether or not they’ll still have one when we come through the other side of this crisis.
There are also thousands of injured employees receiving workers’ compensation and disability benefits who are uncertain if these will continue if their place of employment is forced to shut down for good.
Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys try to answer many of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to workers’ comp—and here we’ll discuss what workers should know if their place of employment goes out of business or shuts down while they are receiving benefits.
Will my workers’ compensation continue?
Workers who are getting paid workers’ comp or disability benefits generally have 2 options when their employer must close:
- Receive a lump-sum settlement, or
- Negotiate to have your current workers’ compensation benefits continue.
Because workers’ compensation benefits are paid for by the state and not the employer, you should still receive benefits or a lump-sum even if your employer declares bankruptcy.
Most employers in Georgia are legally obligated to carry insurance to cover the cost of worker injuries and illnesses; therefore, your benefits shouldn’t stop being paid if your company closes because you receive them from a private insurer. The insurance carrier is responsible for making payments whether your employer relocates or goes out of business.
However, if your employer is self-insured and goes out of business, or if the claim was just started and still under investigation, the insurer might have to delay the claim if they can’t contact your employer.
There are also some benefits and payments that you can only receive depending based on your ability to work, which needs to be verified by your employer. If your employer isn’t available to verify your work status by the time you’re ready to return, this makes it difficult to prove your work status and could result in delayed benefits.
What happens if I have job restrictions?
If the recovery plan outlined by your treating physician includes limitations in the workplace, such as limiting the amount of weight you can lift or periods of time you can stand, you may need to file a reinstatement petition to get workers’ comp benefits. This applies to cases where you’ve started the process of filing a claim before your employer closed up shop.
Can I receive workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits at the same time?
If your employer goes out of business or closes down due to COVID-19 and you’re still receiving workers’ compensation, you can apply for Georgia unemployment benefits too. In order to receive both, the insurance company must be notified that you’re applying for unemployment.
Insurers are entitled to a certain amount of credit from your unemployment and will reduce the amount of compensation being paid to you if you plan to receive both types of benefits.
If you’ve been injured in the state of Georgia and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you’re entitled to continue receiving those benefits, even if your employer goes out of business—regardless of the reason.
If your benefits have been affected, don’t hesitate.
The attorneys at Gerber & Holder understand that filing for workers’ comp or unemployment can be stressful, especially during a pandemic. We want to assure you that our doors remain open, even when we’re not physically in the office.