New Jersey worker’s compensation only gives you 70% of your average weekly wage while you’re recovering from your injuries. Permanent partial and permanent total disability benefits don’t go any higher.
Most people are struggling financially as it is. 70% of most people’s income isn’t enough to meet a lot of people’s bills. So it’s natural that you might ask yourself if you can earn at least a little income while you’re at home and recovering.
You can earn some income while collecting benefits, but you have to be careful. You and your workers compensation attorney should work together to answer the following questions.
Will the work meet your doctor’s restrictions on activity?
Be careful. This issue isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.
Let’s say you put some items up for sale on eBay. Perhaps you even open up a small store. You think: the Internet is doing all the work while I rest. There’s no way this could cause me to break my restrictions.
Then someone makes a purchase and you have to actually ship the package. If this means lugging a heavy item all the way to the post office then you might well run afoul of your doctor’s restrictions, setting yourself up for a situation where you might be accused of workers compensation fraud.
Carefully review your restrictions with your attorney. You may have to have a friend or family member do your mailing for you so that you can remain in bed.
Will the amount you expect to earn actually be worth it?
Unfortunately, you are required to report every extra dollar you receive to the New Jersey Office of Special Compensation Funds immediately after you begin earning wages. They will then start lowering your workers compensation payments in response to your income.
In some cases you might be able to strike the right balance to get back to 100% of what you were earning before, but in many others you may end up making less money than you’d have made if you’d just devoted all that time to recovery.
Is the work likely to trigger a re-evaluation of your case?
Grabbing a freelance gig could be about equal to the kind of “light duty” work your employer may be able to offer you. Anything too close to “light duty” might just trigger a re-evaluation, in which your employer will say, well, it looks like you can come back to work on light duty.
Turning down light duty can mean losing your benefits altogether and getting fired. If you truly aren’t prepared to go back to work then it is very dangerous to start doing any kind of work from home.
Instead, it might be wiser to try to make ends meet by applying for other government programs like SNAP, looking for ways to lower your expenses, or to get some help from family members and friends. Note that you will still have to inform your insurance carrier if you receive assistance from the state while on workers compensation.
Get Help Today
It can be very challenging to figure out how to get your needs met while on workers compensation. Make sure you have an experienced workers compensation attorney by your side as you navigate the process. This can prevent you from making serious errors which could jeopardize your benefits and ability to recover.
Don’t wait. Reach out to Talone Law to get help today.