Can you get the best of both worlds? Unemployment Compensation vs. Temporary Total Disability Benefits
If there is one thing we have learned over the years, the bills don’t stop when a person is injured at work or laid off from a job (or both). All avenues must be explored to keep a steady flow of income. But as you scramble to balance the monthly budget, it is important to know the interplay between workers’ compensation benefits and unemployment benefits.
There can be limitations on receiving unemployment compensation and temporary total disability benefits at the same time. Every situation is different and a lawyer should be consulted in each case.
First, it’s important to note that in order to receive unemployment benefits in Illinois, you need to (1) register for work at an unemployment office and continue to report to that office, (2) make a claim for benefits with respect to each week, and (3) be able and available for work and actively seeking work during the period in question. Being able and available to work does not mean any and every single job, but it means that you are “ready and willing to accept suitable work.” All of the above is subject to regulations prescribed by the Director of Unemployment and can change at any time.
What constitutes “suitable work,” is unique to each claimant. It involves the degree of risk involved to health, safety, and morals; prior training and physical ability; length of unemployment; prospects for securing local work within your usual occupation; and the distance of the available work from where you live. All of the above are helpful indicators that factor into what defines “suitable work”.
On the other hand, in order to be entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, you have to prove that you did not work AND that you were not able to work due to your injury. TTD benefits are awarded to an employee for the period of time when injured (if removed from the workforce by a qualified physician) until the point when he or she “has recovered as much as the character of the injury will permit.”
The courts have stated time and again that just because you apply for or receive unemployment compensation does not automatically mean that you are not entitled to receive TTD benefits or that your ability to receive TTD benefits diminishes.
It is important to understand however, the law does not allow you receive a double recovery.
Instead, the Unemployment Compensation Act states that the amount of unemployment compensation will be reduced by the amount of disability benefits (like TTD benefits) that you collect. In essence, if you are entitled to TTD benefits, you are entitled to the full amount of those benefits and unemployment benefits are secondary.
At Capron & Avgerinos, we understand situations like these can be stressful and fact specific.
It is important to seek trusted and experienced legal advice. Contact us at (312) 346-6444 and we would be happy to discuss your particular and unique situation.