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Who Pays My Workers’ Comp Benefits if I Switch Jobs While Receiving Them?

May 2, 2022

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As long as your job makes you eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio, you can apply for and receive benefits if you get hurt on the job. However, many people don’t realize that receiving workers’ compensation benefits from a job where they got hurt doesn’t mean they are “locked into” that job while they are receiving benefits.

Circumstances change, and people change jobs more readily and more frequently than ever before. That applies to people who have been hurt on the job and are receiving workers’ compensation. For example, you may be offered a higher-paying position at another company, or you may find work that’s less likely to cause injury or more suited to your skillset or even your physical capabilities post-injury.

If you change jobs while receiving workers’ compensation, here’s who pays your benefits.

The Source of Your Payments Depends on Your Employer’s Insurance Status

Employers in Ohio have two options for complying with the state’s workers’ compensation requirement. They can either become self-insured for workers’ compensation benefits and thus handle paying claims themselves through their insurers, or they can pay a premium to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and let the BWC handle their injured employees’ benefits for them.

If you change jobs and your employer was self-insured for workers’ compensation, your benefits for that injury will continue to come from the employer you had at the time of the injury, even after that employment ends. If you change jobs and your employer paid a premium to the BWC, your benefits will come from the BWC.

However, switching jobs can still affect your benefits depending on the pay rate of your new job.

Your Workers’ Comp Benefits May Decrease or Be Canceled Depending on Your New Pay Rate

If you’re still receiving workers’ compensation benefits and your doctor hasn’t cleared you to return to work yet, you may still be able to perform other work for a different company despite your current disability. The different line of work may even pay the same or more than your previous job.

When you accept a new position that pays the same or more than the job where you were injured and were approved to receive workers’ compensation benefits, your wage replacements benefits will end, but you may still be eligible to receive money for your medical care.

This is because your benefits are intended to make up for the paychecks you couldn’t receive while you were unable to work because of your injury. When you begin working again, wage replacement benefits are no longer needed.

If you are able to work but you earn less in the new position than you did at your previous job, your benefits may be reduced, with the amount of reduction depending on how much money you make at your new job.

Should You Switch Jobs While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

It’s important to listen to your doctor when you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits, and that includes their advice on whether you’re able to go back to work—even in a different role. Even though your new position may not seem likely to injure you or re-aggravate your work-related injury, it may still put you at risk of pain, discomfort, and even further disability.

For example, a switch from manual labor to office work may seem like a safe way to re-enter the workforce faster than expected while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but you may be in too much pain to work a full day. If you switch jobs and your workers’ compensation benefits decrease or end, only to discover that you’re still disabled or in too much pain to work, you may be out of luck if you’re forced to quit your new job.

Switching Jobs Within the Same Company Can Be a Good Option if It’s Available

Switching jobs while on workers’ compensation doesn’t always mean going to work for a new employer. Some companies will offer “light-duty” positions to injured employees so that they can still contribute while they recover from their injuries. These positions are often, but not always, lower-paid due to lower wages or reduced hours, which means injured workers can still receive some of their workers’ compensation benefits.

However, you shouldn’t accept light-duty work unless your doctor clears you to do it. Some injuries are so severe that any type of exertion or movement can put victims at risk of aggravating the injury or experiencing severe pain.

We’ve Got Answers and Assistance for Your Workers’ Comp Questions and Needs

Workers’ compensation benefits aren’t just legally complex, they can also be personally difficult to navigate. It’s common for workers to want to get back on the job as quickly as possible, and when new job opportunities arise, they may want to take them, even if it means a reduction in or loss of benefits.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers can help you work through every step of the workers’ compensation application and benefits phase. We can advise you on steps to take to maximize your financial and physical recoveries, including whether it makes sense to change jobs, whether it’s at a different company or in a different department at your current job.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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