Many people are reluctant to take a new job while receiving workers’ compensation, as they worry that it will make them ineligible for benefits. With a few exceptions, this isn’t the case. South Carolina law protects the rights of injured workers to receive the benefits they’re entitled to. However, some employers and insurance companies will unlawfully deny workers’ compensation after someone changes jobs.

If an on-the-job injury has led to pursuing a career change, it may not be clear to you whether you’ll continue receiving workers’ comp if you do. Read on to explore who’s eligible for workers’ comp in South Carolina and how you can recover wrongfully-denied benefits with the help of Joye Law Firm.

What Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Can Receive

Under South Carolina law, you’re entitled to specific workers’ compensation benefits. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission specifies that you can receive:

  • Medical care for your injury from an employer-specified provider
  • Compensation for wages you cannot earn due to your injury
  • Compensation for any type of permanent disability

When Workers’ Compensation Ends

In the majority of cases, workers’ compensation benefits aren’t permanent. They typically end when you’re considered fully healed and/or able to return to work, or after a predetermined period of time, whichever comes first.

  • Medical Treatment: Medical coverage for your work-related disability will end when your provider determines you will not benefit from receiving further care. Depending on your injury, this may mean completing your course of treatment or reaching a point where you are believed to have recovered as much as possible.
  • Lost Wages: If you receive compensation for wages you cannot earn due to your injury, these benefits will stop as soon as you are cleared to return to work at full capacity. Otherwise, you can receive these benefits for up to 500 weeks (roughly 9½ years).
  • Permanent Disability: Injuries resulting in permanent disability will still be compensated for a specified period, even if you change jobs or can work. How long you receive benefits for permanent injury depends on the body part that is injured. For example, someone who loses a hand (a more severe injury) will receive benefits for longer than someone who loses a finger.

The maximum amount of time you can be compensated for a disability is 500 weeks, or around 9½ years, but there are a few exceptions to the 500-week rule. For example, if you experienced physical brain damage or paralysis of the lower body, you can receive lifetime benefits.

Is My Medical Care Covered if I Switch Jobs?

In most situations, yes. If you still need medical care for your work-related injury, workers’ compensation will cover doctor’s appointments and medical treatments until your doctor determines you will no longer benefit from care.

Can I Still Receive Lost Wages if I Switch Jobs?

This is where it gets slightly more complicated. Once you’ve been cleared to work in any capacity, you cannot claim temporary total disability. This means that you can no longer receive full compensation for lost wages.

However, there is an exception for employees who cannot perform all their previous duties. If you take a new job that pays less because your injury prevents you from performing the duties of your last role, you can seek compensation for your lost earning capacity..

If there’s little to no pay difference between your old and new job, or if you make more money at your new job, you cannot claim wage loss benefits.

Do I Lose Workers’ Comp Benefits if I Get a New Job Somewhere Else?

No. You don’t need to work for the same employer to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. South Carolina law bases eligibility on your ability to work at full capacity and your current income, not the specific job you hold or the company you work for.

However, your former employer or their insurance company may claim that you are no longer eligible for workers’ comp after you leave. If you’re being wrongfully denied workers’ compensation benefits, a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help you continue receiving the benefits you’re owed.

Review Your Case with Joye Law Firm

You don’t need to remain in your old job to receive workers’ compensation. If you aren’t sure whether you’ll stay eligible for workers’ comp or if your claims are being unfairly denied, consult Joye Law Firm to explore your legal options. We’ve helped many South Carolinians recover the benefits they’re owed. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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