The workers’ compensation doctor has released me to return to work, but told me I can never return to my old job because of my physical restrictions. I am worried about how I’ll get a new job. Am I entitled to keep getting my workers’ compensation checks while I look for a new job?
Yes, as long as you continue to make reasonable efforts to look for work within your physical restrictions as outlined by your doctor. What are reasonable efforts? We recommend that you look for a minimum of two jobs per day, unless it is a day that you are laid up in a hospital or engaged in medical treatment for the majority of the day.
We also recommend that you keep a detailed, organized, running list of each and every place that you have looked for work, even if it is just a phone call to that employer. You should write down the name, address, and phone number of the potential employer, whom you spoke with, and the reason you were not hired. If you have an attorney, you should copy and mail/fax those lists to your attorney on a regular basis. When the time comes for mediation or to look at resolving your case, those lists will prove important.
The exception to this requirement would be if it is clear and obvious that your age, inexperience, lack of education, or other pre-existing factors would make a job search futile. That is quite rare, though, unless your doctor finds you completely disabled from all work.
In any event, if you fulfill either of these conditions, that is, either 1) you are under physical restrictions and you are making reasonable efforts to look for work, but cannot find any work within your restrictions OR 2) it would be futile, given your age, experience, etc. to do so, you are considered to be temporarily disabled and you are entitled to continue to receive your workers’ compensation as long as you continue to be under those physical restrictions.
Be aware that particularly if the employer is continuing to pay you benefits, you may begin hearing from a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Their job is to try to find you a job, or find out what additional education and training you may need in order to obtain a job within your physical restrictions.
Sometimes, these folks can be very aggressive, and can essentially make your life miserable. The Commission has a set of very strict rules as to how they are permitted to operate. Please contact us if you need advice as to how to deal with the vocational rehabilitation counselors.