Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation: Can I Get Both?
Yes you can. However, your eligibility for both will be determined based on a variety of factors. If you were fired, the employer will be required to prove that you were fired for willful misconduct. If the employer fails to meet that burden, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits. It’s not uncommon that discharged employees may have reported work related injuries during the course of their employment that were not properly accepted or rejected by the employer. Many times, if an employer can find a reason to discharge an employee to avoid having to deal with a workers compensation claim they will do it. However, it does not mean that they are off the hook for the work related injury. Even if an employee has been fired they can still file a workers’ compensation claim and if the employer did not address the claim when reported by the employee, the employer can also be forced to pay a penalty on top of your workers’ compensation benefits.
Another common scenario involves employees who will take a medical leave of absence to address a work related injury and apply for unemployment compensation. Many employer’s will often encourage employees to follow this route because it forces the unemployment trust fund to pay benefits that should have been covered by their workers’ compensation insurance. However, even if you did not file a workers’ compensation claim before the leave of absence you may want to file a workers’ compensation claim during or after the leave of absence. Generally, your unemployment benefit, will be less than your workers’ compensation benefit rate and it’s important to ensure that your rights are protected going forward in the event you don’t fully recover or you have medical bills that are not fully covered by your insurance. You should also be aware, despite what your employer’s tells you, that you will not automatically be eligible for unemployment benefits if you go off on a medical leave. In that scenario, you will have the burden of establishing that you are able and available to perform suitable work in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. It’s important to understand that the employer does not determine your eligibility, the unemployment service center will determine your eligibility – so don’t assume you will be eligible for unemployment benefits because the employer says they won’t contest your application.
If you are thinking about or are currently receiving unemployment compensation and you believe that your situation should have been handled under workers’ compensation it’s important that you contact a Pennsylvania attorney experienced in both Pennsylvania unemployment and Pennsylvania workers’ compensation to determine your options.