If you're unable to work after suffering an on-the-job injury, it makes sense to see what type of compensation you're entitled to receive. However, it's important to note that most Louisiana residents can't legally collect workers' compensation benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.
About Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers' compensation benefits provide financial support to employees who suffer on-the-job injuries. Benefits pay for medical care related to the injury as well as replacement of a portion of the lost wages.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits for injured Louisiana workers are paid at a rate that is two-thirds of their average weekly wage but subject to minimum and maximum rates that change each year. As of September 1, 2017, the minimum benefit is $174 per week, and the maximum benefit is $653 per week.
There is no limit on the length of time you can receive TTD benefits. However, payments end when you are able to return to work or have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
About Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment benefits are intended to provide support if you've involuntarily lost your job or are involuntarily working reduced hours through no fault of your own. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be actively looking for work from at least three different employers each week and able to accept a position when it is offered.
Unemployment benefits are awarded regardless of financial need, but the amount you receive is based on your work history and past earnings. The current minimum benefit payment in Louisiana is $10 per week, while the maximum payment is $247 per week. Claimants can receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks, as long as they continue to look for work. However, in times where there are very high unemployment rates throughout the state, claimants may gain special access to additional weeks of benefit payments.
The Relationship Between Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment benefits provide substantially less support than workers' compensation benefits because unemployed workers with no physical limitations are expected to find new jobs as soon as possible. Injured workers receive higher benefits because their medical condition limits their ability to work. They're not expected to look for work because they typically already have a position to return to when they've recovered from their injury.
Receiving Both Unemployment and Workers' Compensation Benefits
In most cases, you cannot receive both unemployment benefits and workers' compensation benefits at the same time.
If you are unable to work because of an on-the-job injury, you do not qualify for unemployment benefits because your injury makes you medically unfit for work. Additionally, your current employer is holding your job until you are able to return to work.
Attempting to receive both unemployment and workers' compensation benefits when you are not eligible is considered fraud. You will likely be subjected to potential criminal and/or civil penalties.
One of the questions asked each week when applicants report their work search is "Did you receive or apply for workers' compensation during this week?" This question is specifically asked to identify cases of potential fraud.
The only way it may be possible to receive both unemployment benefits and workers' compensation benefits is if you are currently receiving permanent partial disability (PPD) payments under the workers' compensation program. PPD benefits are awarded for serious injuries such as amputations, disfigurement, and permanent hearing loss. If you're receiving PPD benefits and actively looking for new work that is better suited to your physical limitations, you may be eligible for both types of assistance.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
State laws regarding unemployment and workers' comp can be complicated, which is why working with an attorney is often the best way to protect your right to compensation. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is dedicated to helping Louisiana workers access the benefits they need to recover from on-the-job injuries. To learn more about how we can help with your claim, contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.