Am I Eligible for Unemployment Benefits If I am Sick or Injured?
When employees are sick or injured and are required to take a leave of absence from their job, but are not terminated from the their job, the Unemployment Compensation (UC) service center will usually determine the Employee’s eligibility for UC benefits under Section 402(b) and Section 401(d)(1). Those sections of the UC law deal with an Employee’s eligibility after they “voluntarily quit” their job. Many Employees are confused and shocked when they receive their Notice of Determination saying that they are ineligible for UC benefits because they “quit their job.” Under UC law, a leave of absence and a voluntary quit are handled under the same section of the law, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you quit your job. Most of the time, however, the circumstances surrounding the separation are not the driving factor as to why an Employee is ineligible for benefits. When an Employee is sick or injured and can’t work, most of the time, the controlling section of law is Section 401(d)(1). That section requires an employee to be “able to work and available for suitable work.” That doesn’t mean that the Employee is able to perform their pre-injury or pre-illness job. It simply means that the Employee must be able to perform some type of work for the Employer or in the local community. For Example, if an employee is restricted from lifting anything over 25 lbs. and his job requires that he lift 50 lbs. his employer may not let him work. However, if the employer has a job that has a 25 lb. lifting requirement and the Employee provides documentation, usually from a doctor, saying that the Employee can perform that work, the Employee should be meet the “able and available” requirements to be eligible for UC benefits. Even if the Employer does not have a job within the Employee’s restrictions, the Employee may still be able to meet the “able and available” requirements if there is work in the general community that the Employee could perform. Be careful though, because if your restrictions are too great, the UC service center could determine that you are not realistically attached to the labor force and find you ineligible for benefits.
If you become sick as a result of something that occurred on the job or are injured on the job you could be eligible for both UC benefits and workers compensation benefits. If you have questions regarding your eligibility for UC or workers compensation benefits you should speak to an experienced employment lawyer.