DID YOU HOLD A SECOND JOB WHEN YOU WERE INJURED AT WORK? HOW DOES CONCURRENT EMPLOYMENT AFFECT YOUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM AND WEEKLY BENEFITS?
Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, weekly workers’ compensation benefits are calculated off your average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is the average of your previous 52 weeks of gross earnings dating backwards from the date of injury. There are, however, some exceptions to this general rule and one such exception is the concurrent wage rule.
Oftentimes, many workers who are hurt on the job and lose time from work, also have a second job (either full or part time) at the time of their injury. If, as a result of the original injury, they are also unable to work at the second job, they may be entitled to weekly compensation payments based on the combined lost wages from both jobs. This is referred to as “concurrent employment.”
However, in Massachusetts, there are some very specific factors which must be present to take advantage of this additional payment. The employer on the second job (the non-injury job) must carry a Mass. workers’ compensation policy at the time of the injury. For example, if the second job involves self-employment, the second employer does not carry Massachusetts workers’ comp coverage, or the job involves Federal employment, this added wage provision will NOT apply.
For example, if you were paid $400.00 per week on the job on which you were injured, and had wages of $200.00 in your second job, your weekly compensation rate would be based on the combined wages of $600.00.
In many instances, workers may have concurrent employment at the time of their industrial injury, but only lose time from one of their jobs. If they lost time from the job on which they were injured, but continue at their second job, their wages would be based on a percentage of only the wages from their “injury” employment.
As in the example above, if they continued working only the second job, their compensation would be based only on the $400.00 average wage. In that instance, they would be receiving what is called “partial disability” compensation benefits, as opposed to total.
In many circumstances, injured workers will lose time from a part-time job because of an injury on that job but will continue in their full-time position. Often, they will try to increase hours on their full-time (non-injury job) to supplement their income. In that instance, those wages must be reported to the workers’ compensation insurer as an overpayment may be created.
From the above example, if the injured worker loses wages from his part-time job at $200 per week but decides to increase his weekly income from the full-time job, any earnings over the original $400 per week wage will serve to decrease his/her weekly compensation benefit.
Again, it important to note that the concurrent employer (the non-injury employer) must carry a valid and current Massachusetts workers’ policy in order for the additional wages to be included in a weekly compensation rate.
There are frequently situations in which an injured workers’ full-time employer is NOT covered by a current Massachusetts workers’ compensation policy, such as a federal employer, an employer insured in another state or from self-employment. In those cases, if the worker only loses time from the part-time job, but continues working for the non-insured employer, he/she may not be entitled to receive any weekly compensation benefits even though they remain disabled from the part-time position.
Always be sure to advise your attorney if you were concurrently employed at the time of your industrial injury. He/she will investigate whether your other employer carries a valid workers’ compensation policy in Massachusetts and obtain your wages from them. He/she would also ensure the insurer pays according to the combined wages.
It could make a big difference in your weekly benefits.
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