Under New York Workers’ Comp. Law, a totally disabled claimant has no obligation to seek employment. However, a partially disabled claimant has an obligation to make a reasonable search for work of any kind within his or her work capacity.
The insurance carrier may request that you produce evidence of your job search. If you cannot produce sufficient evidence of a diligent job search, the insurance company may be allowed to suspend your weekly payments.
There was a time when insurance companies didn’t push the labor market attachment issue; however, that time is over. These days insurance companies routinely ask claimants to submit detailed accounts of their job searches. If the claimant is unable to produce satisfactory documentation, Workers’ Comp. Law Judges routinely suspend benefits.
We advise our clients who have gone from totally to partially disabled to ask their employer if they have light duty within their restrictions. If the employer doesn’t have light duty, we advise our client’s to file for unemployment benefits and to make ongoing efforts to find work within their medical restrictions and to document that effort. See N.Y. Workers’ Comp. And Unemployment Benefits.
Additionally, we encourage our clients to work with the rehabilitation staff of the Workers’ Comp. Board. Among other services, the rehabilitation staff assists claimants with retraining and job search.
The good news is that partially disabled claimants are eligible for reduced earnings when as a consequence of the work related injury they take employment for less money than their average weekly wage prior to the injury. Reduced earnings are tax-free and are 2/3 of the difference between pre-injury and post-injury earnings up to the maximum allowable benefit, which means in some circumstances folks will actually receive a greater benefit by returning to work at reduced earnings.
Thanks for reading,
Eric L. Johnson
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William St.
Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529