You may be able to do some work while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. A doctor may determine that you have some capacity to work. Your employer could offer you a light duty job that falls into your current abilities.
If light duty work is offered, you need to accept it or risk losing your benefits. The employer is not obligated to offer you light duty work, but you have to take it when they offer it, even if you do not like the work.
For help with any workers’ compensation issue, contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.
Injured Employees May Need an Independent Medical Examination When Receiving Workers Comp Benefits
Once you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, the insurance company may ask you to attend a medical examination with a so-called “independent medical examiner.” In reality, this is not a request — you must see the doctor.
The insurance company is looking to find any way possible to get out of paying you lost wages. The independent medical examination would determine your physical condition. The doctor may conclude that you have some capacity to return to work at that point.
What Is a Light Duty Job?
Even if you are able to return to work, you may not be able to perform the job duties that you did before the injury. For instance, you may not be able to perform heavy lifting if you are still recovering from a back injury.
Your employer may make you a light duty job offer where you return to work but with a different set of job duties. For example, a light duty assignment could mean that you have a desk job that does not require you to do any physical work.
Can You Get Workers Comp While on Light Duty?
You can still remain on workers’ compensation when you have a light duty position. Workers comp would still need to pay for your medical expenses, so long as you need care to treat your work-related injury.
Workers’ compensation would also compensate you for the difference in earnings before and after the injury. You would be entitled to two-thirds of the difference in earnings as temporary disability benefits. Even if you made the same money, workers comp would still cover your medical bills.
Light duty work does not automatically mean that you are being paid the full amount that you were making when working at your normal job. You could be working at a less skilled position that does not pay you as much.
Do Employers Have to Provide Light Duty Work Under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act?
Illinois employers are not under a legal requirement  to offer you light duty work when you are on workers compensation.
If your job is unionized, light duty work may be governed by the collective bargaining agreement that is in place.
What if My Employer Does Not Have a Light Duty Job Available for Me?
Your company may be one that only needs manual labor. While many people talk about light duty jobs as if they are readily available, that is not the case for many employers. Some desk jobs require specialized training that you may not have. There is a strong chance that your employer may not have light duty work for you.
If you have not yet reached the point of maximum medical improvement, you would continue to receive disability benefits. Once you reach MMI, the doctor would determine whether you have the capacity to resume your work at all and the percentage of your disability.
Light Duty Can Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are two parts to your workers’ compensation benefits. You would receive the associated medical costs to treat your injury. You would also receive lost wage payments to compensate you for the money that you are not earning.
If you are performing light duty work with restrictions, you may still be earning some money. It would not be fair for you to receive full payment when you are able to earn some money. Thus, your workers’ compensation benefits may be reduced when you are doing modified duty work to reflect that you are earning some money.
You would still be paid something when you are not able to earn normal wages because of your injuries. Generally, you would be paid two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning before the injury and now.
Can I Refuse Light Duty Jobs When on Workers Compensation?
If there is a light duty job that falls within your work limitations, you cannot refuse it. So long as you have the capacity to perform the light duty work, you must do it.
If you refuse a light duty position, your workers’ compensation benefits could be at risk. The insurance company may learn that you turned down light duty work and move to terminate your benefits. If you file an appeal, you may lose in front of an administrative law judge.
What to Do Before Accepting a Light Duty Position
Here are some things that you should do before you accept a light duty position:
- Consult with your doctor to make sure that you can actually perform the work
- Make sure that you understand the nature of the position and duties
- Consult with an attorney to understand whether you have to go back to work under these circumstances
- Document your conversations with your employer and what you are being told about the work
Call Us for a Free Case Evaluation
You may need legal support for your Illinois workers’ compensation claim. You could find that your claim has been denied altogether, or the insurance company doctor is trying to force you back to work when you are not able to.
Your workers comp lawyer would represent you throughout the process and fight for your legal rights. Call the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757, or contact us through our website, to schedule your free consultation.
References:  Illinois General Assembly