Can I Receive Both Unemployment and Workers’ Comp Benefits at the Same Time?
Unemployment benefits are paid by the government to employees who involuntarily leave their employment. In other words, if one is physically able to work, but his/her employer fired the individual, he or she may be entitled to unemployment benefits. To start getting these benefits, one must file an application with the unemployment office. After application, the unemployment agency will conduct an investigation to determine if there was cause for termination. If no cause is found, benefits will usually be awarded. Things are a little different with Covid, but a beneficiary is also required to continue to search for work while receiving benefits.
Employers are required by law to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance (if they have 5 or more employees). Workers’ Compensation benefits for employees injured at work only pay for medicals and 2/3 of average weekly wages up to fairly low caps. So high wage earners are not able to receive an actual 66% of what they were used to earning.
So why not apply for unemployment benefits to supplement workers’ comp benefits? First, rarely, if ever, are you allowed to receive insurance money for an injury and also receive government assistance for the same injury. For example, let’s say you were driving to a business to make a sales call and were involved in a car wreck caused by someone else. You would be entitled to workers’ comp benefits and payments from the “at fault” insurance company. However, you can’t keep both. No double dipping allowed, sorry. If you receive money from the “at fault” insurance company in the example above, the workers’ comp insurance company has a statutory lien for any amounts workers’ comp has paid in benefits.
Second, unemployment benefits are not for people who are physically unable to work. Unemployment benefits and Workers’ Comp benefits are similar in that they are meant to help someone who is out work survive (barely). But they are intended to support two very different employees at different stages. It would be counterintuitive for someone who was injured and his or her doctor says they can not work to then apply for unemployment where they would then be required to look for work.
So obviously the answer the the initial question is no.
Have a great weekend!
“Love more, judge less.” JKR