Written by attorney Michele Susan Lewane

Guidelines when on light duty and looking for work within your restrictions


Over the past few years I have seen a disturbing new trend developing in the workers' compensation arena. Injured workers are increasingly being denied their compensation because they did not look for work sufficiently for the Commission. I have developed these guidelines to help my clients ensure that they are not denied a weekly check because of poor job search efforts. Follow the instructions and keep detailed records to show the insurance company, and the VWC, that you are making a good faith effort to find employment and that you are doing so by using all resources available to you . I have seen many people lose their workers’ compensation benefits because of failure to look for suitable work while they are under light duty work restrictions. It is of the highest importance that you be looking for work within your restrictions. I know that you may be feeling like it is pointless to look for work at the moment because of stringent restrictions or because your claim is being denied, but if your claim is being denied and you do not look for work now, you will not get a weekly check(i.e. NO MONEY) - even if you win at a hearing! Even if you think that no one will hire you, you still have to make the effort and look for suitable employment AND, even if you find a job working less hours or making less money than you did before, you still need to continue to job search and keep a record of these efforts.

Looking for LightDuty Work Tips:

• Anytime you apply for a job using an online resource, you must print confirmation of this online attempt to find suitable employment, simply writing down a list of jobs applied for online will not be sufficient.

·You MUST contact your pre-injury employer and ask if they have any light duty work available for you. If they do, you MUST accept it, so long as it is within you're the doctor's work restrictions.

·Compose a resume and give a copy to your lawyer.

·Anytime you fill out an application, keep a copy for yourself , supply your lawyer with a copy, and write down the name of the person you left it with at the potential employer.

·Fill out the Marketing chart COMPLETELY on a DAILY basis. Ideal Minimum Contacts per Week:8 online;8 by phone; 4 in person (*if you are unable to drive, get a ride from someone) We stick to these ratios because only searching via one method of contact is not considered to be a good faith effort.

YOU MUST Register With:_,__,_ and _

A Good Rule To Follow: If you were working 40 hours a week before your injury; you need to be spending 40 hours a week looking for suitable employment.

Funnel Your Job Search:

Start you job searches specific, looking for employment within your experience and skill set. Then expand every month to jobs outside your experience, as long as they are within your work limitations.

Here are the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission guidelines. But BE AWARE every Commissioner interprets the guidelines differently and this is the bare minimum. If you do the bare minimum and the Commission finds one job search is not sufficient, you get no money. So follow my reccomendations above for the best opportuniry to get a weekly check.

Virginia Workers Compensation's GUIDELINES:

1. Good faith search for work - An employee who is partially disabled – ie., unable to perform his or her regular job, but able to perform light duty work – is required to seek light duty work in good faith in order to receive disability benefits if he or she is not on an open award.

  1. Factors the Commission considers - In deciding whether a partially disabled employee has made a reasonable effort to find suitable light duty employment the Commission considers such factors as : (1) the nature and extent of the disability; (2) the employee’s training, age, experience and education; (3) the nature and extent of the job search; (4) the availability of jobs in the area suitable for the employee considering his disability; (5) any other matter affecting the employee’s capacity to find suitable employment.

  2. Evidence of reasonable effort – It is presumed that in most cases the claimant made a reasonable effort to market residual work capacity when he or she (a) registered with the Virginia Employment Commission within a reasonable time after being released to return to work and (b) directly contacted at least five potential employers per week where the employee has a reasonable basis to believe that there might be a job available that he or she might be able to perform and (c) if appropriate, contacted the pre-injury employer for light duty work.

  3. Keep a job search record – Information provided by the injured worker about job contacts should be supported by facts, preferably in writing, about the names of the employers contacted; where the employers are located; the date(s) the contact was made; whether the contact was in person, by phone or via internet; and the result of the contact.

  4. Pre-injury skills or experience - Where an injured worker has particular job skills or training, he or she may focus the search on jobs in that field if there are jobs in that field that the employee can reasonably perform. However, if within a reasonable amount of time the search is not successful, the employee must broaden the search beyond that field.

  5. Method of Contacting Employers - Employer contacts should be conducted in a manner reasonably suited to the position sought, which in some cases may be personal visits. In other cases, contacts may be by phone, internet, mail, or through employment agents such as union hiring halls.

  6. Attempt to maximize earnings - If the employee locates and takes a job that pays substantially less than his or her pre-injury job, the employee should continue looking for a higher paying job.

It is not necessary to prescreen or know for certain of the availability of a suitable job.

Additional resources provided by the author

For additional information, order my free no obligation book, "The Ultimate Guide to Virginia Workers Compensation" at

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