If you are no longer working and you cannot return to your job because of an injury, it can be difficult to get by financially. Whether you were injured on the job, you are sick, or you are otherwise disabled and unable to return to work, it is possible to collect money to help you pay your bills and living expenses. But, unless you are a lawyer, you probably don’t know specifically how to collect money if you are injured at work. There are a few different options available to you to help you collect money while you are unable to return to work because of an injury.
Workers’ compensation is one alternative, which is discussed at length in this article: How to Qualify for Workers’ Compensation. Two other good options to help you collect money if you are injured at work are unemployment benefits and long term disability insurance coverage, explained below.
The first program that may be available to allow you to collect money if you are out of work is unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits come into effect when you lost your job for the moment but can still return to work sometime in the future. However, unemployment benefits are only available to employees who are out of work through no fault of their own, meaning if you quit your job, you cannot collect unemployment. To collect unemployment you must meet the following 3 criteria:
- Able to work, meaning you are physically and mentally capable of returning to work,
- Available to work, meaning there is nothing else preventing you from working, such as a lack of transportation or another hindrance, and
- Actively seeking work, meaning you are consistently and actively looking for a job
If you were injured on the job, it isn’t likely that you can collect unemployment money because you won’t meet the “able to work” criteria. However, if you have recovered from your injury and you are able to return to work again, but for whatever reason your old job is no longer available, unemployment benefits could be an option for you. Regardless of whether you qualify for unemployment after your workplace injury, workers’ compensation or long term disability could still be available.
Long Term Disability Coverage
Another alternative is long-term disability insurance, which is provided when you are injured, sick, or disabled, and your condition is significant enough that you cannot return to work for an extended period of time. While unemployment benefits are provided from a state government agency, long term disability benefits are provided through a private insurance company. Most large companies that offer benefits to their employees will have some type of disability insurance coverage as part of the benefits package.
The typical long term disability insurance coverage will provide monthly payments when you are injured on the job that are equal to about 50-70% of your normal salary. There is also often a delay from when the injury at work occurs and when these benefits become available (often between 90-180 days).
Sometimes, the employer pays the entire cost of disability insurance coverage, but these days it’s more common for the employee to share some of the cost, or even pay for the insurance in full. Look over your employment agreement and benefits plan to find out what type of coverage you have and how it can help you.
An Employment Lawyer Can Help You
If you don’t know how to collect money if you are injured at work, an employment lawyer can help you through the process.
There are some instances where the eligibility requirements for long term disability and unemployment benefits overlap, in which case you can receive money from two sources every month to help get you through this tough time. Fundamentally, a private insurance company will not want to grant you long term disability payments if you are also collecting unemployment because they believe you are capable of returning back to the workforce. But there are certain cases where it is possible to receive both types of benefits. By talking to a lawyer, you can find out more about your insurance coverage and your rights to collect both payments.
You might qualify for unemployment benefits, workers compensation, long term disability coverage, or some combination of the three, and not even know it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find an employment lawyer to help you navigate through your options and determine what the best course of action is to collect money after you are injured on the job.
Have a Lawyer Review Your Long Term Disability Insurance Policy
If you have long term disability benefits from your job, have a lawyer carefully review your long term disability insurance policy. The policy will state if you have an “own occupation” or an “any occupation” policy.
Having an “own occupation” policy means that you can claim long term disability benefits if your injury prevents you from performing your own occupation specifically. Under an own occupation policy, you are able to claim your long term disability benefits because you are unable return to your old job. As mentioned above, you may also be able to claim unemployment benefits if you are technically capable of returning to the workforce in another capacity. The bottom line is that if you are capable of working, just not capable of working at your old job, you may be entitled to both unemployment and disability coverage. Consult with an employment lawyer to find out if this might be a possibility for you.
Many employers are switching their employees’ disability insurance policies to “any occupation” policies, meaning the coverage only applies when an employee is incapable of performing the duties of “any occupation,” not just specifically their own previous occupation. This basically limits your disability coverage to situations when you are permanently disabled from an illness or injury at work and can never work again. Have a lawyer review the details of your policy closely to determine which policy type you have and whether you might qualify for both unemployment and long term disability coverage.
If you cannot work because of a work related injury, sickness, or some other reason, you will want to collect money to help you get by. Unemployment benefits and disability insurance may be available depending on your situation, and in certain cases, you can qualify for unemployment benefits on top of your long term disability payments. However, just keep in mind that filing for unemployment can have consequences in the future and it can cost you your long term disability payments if it’s not done properly. Find a lawyer to discuss all the details and help you determine the best course of action to take in order to find out how to collect money if you are injured at work.