The Difference Between Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment concept problem sad tired woman in fron of laptopBoston Attorneys for Workplace Accident Victims

While both workers' compensation benefits and unemployment benefits are state programs available to assist employees who are unable to work, they have numerous differences. Usually, workers' compensation benefits provide more compensation because a disabled worker requires more assistance than one who is simply unemployed. If you are unable to work due to a job-related disability, you should consult the Boston workers’ compensation lawyers at Pulgini & Norton for guidance on your rights and options.

The Difference Between Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Benefits

All employers in Massachusetts are required to have workers' compensation insurance. A worker who is injured or made sick on the job is entitled to claim benefits from the employer's insurer. When notified of an employee's injury or illness, the insurer is supposed to investigate the claim within 14 days and pay benefits when appropriate.

There are several different types of benefits that may be available to a workers' compensation claimant: temporary total incapacity benefits, partial incapacity benefits, permanent and total incapacity benefits, loss of function and disfigurement benefits, medical benefits, and survivors’ and dependents’ benefits. These benefits are to be awarded irrespective of fault. That means you could be partially at fault for injuries sustained at work but still be entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) administers the workers' compensation system. If an insurer denies your claim or wants to modify your benefits, either of you can initiate a multi-stage dispute resolution process through the DIA.

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) administers the Unemployment Insurance program. This system gives temporary income assistance to people who are unemployed due to no fault of their own and who are available to work but cannot find a job. As with workers' compensation benefits, you should make a claim for unemployment benefits during your first week of total or partial unemployment.

It takes 2-3 weeks to process an unemployment benefits claim. Less investigation for unemployment benefits is required than what is required for a workers' compensation claim. Unlike the benefits available through the workers' compensation system, there is just one type of unemployment benefit available, and it is simply intended to replace some of the income you have lost by being unemployed. You can work part-time, earning up to one-third of your unemployment benefit rate, and still receive a full benefit.

In contrast to workers' compensation claims, in which you will need to prove disability and inability to work to recover certain benefits (temporary or permanent incapacity benefits), you must be able to work and actively job seeking to qualify for unemployment. In some cases, you can be eligible after leaving a job voluntarily because of good cause related to your employer's conduct or an urgent personal reason, but you should be able to take a job if one were offered to you in order to recover unemployment benefits.

Fault tends to matter in unemployment claims more than in workers' compensation claims. You may be eligible if you were let go for poor performance, but you may not be eligible if your employer shows you were fired for a violation of company rules or deliberate misconduct.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Boston

At Pulgini & Norton, our experienced Boston workers' compensation attorneys can further explain the difference between workers' compensation and unemployment benefits and help you pursue workers' compensation benefits when appropriate. Our workplace accident lawyers also advise and represent people in Lowell, Newton, Somerville, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation.