Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation: can I collect both?

by Karl Voigt

I am often asked if an injured worker can collect Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation when an she had two jobs at the time of injury and is later laid off from one.

The short answer is “not exactly”. On the up side, the long answer is “not exactly, but…”.

First and foremost, please know that, when you have two concurrent jobs and you’re injured at one, the insurer must pay you WC benefits based on wages from BOTH jobs. Namely, the insurer must issue a Statement of Wages that includes earnings from both employers during the year before your injury. Your WC rate is basically two-thirds of your average weekly wage from both employers combined. This weekly benefit is not taxable.

So, if you can’t physically do either job, the insurer must pay you a weekly rate based on your preinjury earnings from both jobs. If you can work one but not the other, you should be paid two-thirds of your preinjury average weekly wage minus your gross earnings at the job you’re still working.

If the insurer hasn’t acknowledged your concurrent earnings, it’s time they do.

Now that this is (hopefully) clear, we can talk about UC.

Since 1996, you can’t “double dip” both WC and UC. That means the workers’ compensation carrier enjoys a credit for any net UC benefits you get. Which means you get the WC you’re entitled to, but the WC carrier deducts yuor UC amount from your checks. This often results in a wash. Which means it may be better to hold off on that UC claim and simply collect your CORRECT WC rate.

Which underscores how important it is to make sure the WC carrier has established the correct average weekly wage calculation — based on preinjury wages from BOTH employers.

Now, if you were laid off from one employer post-injury, there’s a good argument that you should be getting your full WC rate based on your preinjury wages from both employers.

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