This article may help, but you really need to meet with a Workers' Compensation lawyer to discuss all of your rights and options. The consultation will be free, so I urge you to make an appointment right away. In general, you can collect unemployment but it will be a credit against any Workers' Compensation to which you might otherwise be entitled.
Attorney Wolf is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania only. He is Certified as a specialist in the practice of workers' compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Section on Workers' Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A response from Attorney Wolf cannot constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you would like to arrange to speak with Attorney Wolf, he can be reached at 610-323-7436.
You need to hire an experienced workers compensation attorney promptly if you have not done so already. You have a lot of legal issues to address. You cannot collect both unemployment compensation and workers comp at the same time. Workers comp generally pays you more than unemployment. Any unemployment you are paid may be credited by the employer against the workers comp benefits you are paid. You are entitled to receive the higher of the two (unemployment v. Workers comp) assuming you qualify for both.
The short answer to your question is that yes you can receive both unemployment and workers' compensation at the same time. However, your workers' compensation would be reduced dollar for dollar by what you are receiving in unemployment, so you will probably not actually retain more by taking this approach. You should also be aware that unemployment is taxable, but workers' compensation is not. Furthermore, since you can potentially file for unemployment after your workers' compensation benefits stop using the base year from before your injury, using up the unemployment compensation entitlement while you are eligible for workers' compensation probably isn't in your best interest.
I will echo the other posters that you really should meet with a workers' compensation attorney since your situation is complicated and you owe it to yourself to obtain individual expert advise and not just a few paragraphs on a Q & A board.
Timothy D. Belt, Esquire Helping injured workers in Northeast Pennsylvania. email@example.com www.belt-law.com Certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. DISCLAIMER: This post is intended as general information applicable only to the state of Pennsylvania. The information given is based strictly upon the facts provided. This post is not intended to create an attorney client relationship, or to provide any specific guarantee of confidentiality.
NEVER. To collect WC, you MUST be disabled. To collect UE, you MUST be able to work. They CANNOT both be true.
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I recommend that you consult with an experienced Workers Comp attorney as soon as possible.
As long as you have some ability to work, that is, you have been released under restrictions, you would be eligible to collect both, but the Workers Compensation will be offset, dollar for dollar by your Unemployment. Unless the UC is more than the comp, which I have never seen, though it is possible, there is no financial benefit to you to collect both, and a tremendous benefit to your employer.
I can't give you legal advice, other than the general information given above, unless you meet with me.
There are some conflicting answers here, so allow me to explain. Some of the answers are more right than others.
You CAN collect both UC and WC benefits, but only in certain narrow circumstances, and it is sometimes against your interests to try to do so.
To collect UC in PA, you need to be able to state that you were and are "able and available for suitable work" for all periods claimed. This means you would not qualify for UC for any week where you are totally disabled from working. However, you might well qualify if you are not totally disabled but instead available for suitable light duty work and your employer does not make such work available. This assumes that the circumstances of your separation from employment would also qualify you for unemployment compensation. Your recital above is not fully clear, but if the employer fired you for refusing to push your doctor for a full release rather than a light duty release, you should have a solid UC claim.
If you collect UC, any workers' compensation insurance company made to pay benefits for the same span of time will have a statutory (that is, unavoidable) right to a dollar-for-dollar credit for anything you receive in UC benefits. Have taxes taken out of you UC, and this will reduce their credit -- otherwise you will owe taxes on UC yet the full amount of the UC you receive counts toward reducing your WC benefits.
Beware. It may make sense to go on UC so that you have income while fighting your WC claim (since I can only assume the employer and WC insurer will fight your claim, even if not during the first 90 days when they might use a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (NTCP) to stack the medical evidence against you before they stop benefits and force you fight). However, you may find that if you are on UC while fighting a WC claim, the WC insurance company may be more likely to force the matter fully through litigation, to a decision from a Judge, rather than caving in and accepting liability if you have a strong claim. The reason is they want you to keep taking in the UC benefits, prolonging their credit, even if they think they may well eventually lose on the WC claim. If they accept your WC claim and pay benefits (under other than an NTCP, which gives you no real protection), you would normally want to immediately stop putting in biweekly UC claims -- so as to put the full exposure on the WC insurance company, where it belongs, and where that pressure may help you to get a full value workers compensation lump sum settlement -- IF you have a good lawyer. Without a good lawyer, all bets are off.
Assume that your employer will fight you in both the UC and WC claims, and will do all they can to minimize their own exposures, at the expense of your rights. This is why nearly every lawyer here has proposed that you get a lawyer. You most certainly will need one for the WC claim. Contact a firm like mine that handles both UC and WC claims and where the attorney is a Certified Workers Compensation Law Specialist, and you cannot go far wrong.