Say you have a bad accident at work and you’re unable to perform your duties. You apply for a workers’ compensation claim, which is awarded by your employer’s insurance. You may be getting benefits from workers’ compensation, but you’re still unable to work. Does that mean you can apply for unemployment benefits?
In short, no. You are still technically employed even if you are not working while on workers’ compensation. There are exceptions, however. States set mandates for both workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits which means some allow you to collect both. In Illinois, for example, you may collect unemployment benefits while your workers’ compensation claim is being filed or disputed. If you start receiving workers’ compensation benefits, however, you must repay your unemployment benefits. Another exception is if you are terminated or resign because you can no longer perform the previous job due to the injury.
Difference Between Unemployment Benefits and Workers’ Compensation
These two benefits packages are intended for different purposes. Workers’ compensation pays you for the wages you miss while not working due to an injury from work. Unemployment benefits pay you a certain amount when you’re out of a job and searching for employment. Employers are required in most places, including Illinois, to provide workers’ compensation, while you must apply for unemployment benefits individually. Typically, workers’ compensation is for people who are unable to work while unemployment benefits are for people who are actively looking and able to work.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Usually workers’ compensation provides compensation for:
The monetary value of workers’ compensation varies per state and the cost of medical bills, rehabilitation and your income.
- Medical expenses
- 2/3rds wages lost due to the inability to work
How Does Unemployment Work?
Unemployment benefits allow you a steady income while you search for a job. You must meet certain eligibility requirements, often set by the state. In general, you must be job hunting at the time you apply for unemployment benefits. You also must be able to prove that you’re searching for a job. Illinois requires documented proof every two weeks for you to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Eligibility rules vary per state. In most states, you only qualify for unemployment benefits if:
- You aren’t at fault for your unemployment
- You are actively looking for work
- You’ve earned a minimum base amount of earnings in the recent past
This base period for earnings typically calculates four quarters of the year before you filed the claim. In Illinois, you must have earned $1,600 or more during the base period and earned $440 or more during your highest paid quarter. You can ask for a longer base period if you’ve been receiving temporary total disability payments, however.
You may not be eligible for unemployment if you were fired for committing theft, felonies or misconduct at work. You can receive unemployment if you quit for good reason such as health or sexual harassment, but you aren’t eligible if you didn’t have good cause.
How Much Do You Earn on Unemployment?
Unemployment benefits vary per state and per situation, as each state calculates a certain amount of your pervious earnings. In Illinois, you can receive a maximum of $471 a week in weekly benefits.
Do You Earn More from Workers Compensation or Unemployment Benefits?
This is entirely dependent on various factors including your individual situation and location. In general, workers’ compensation may provide more monetary benefits in order to pay for medical fees, but you should check with your employer and attorney about how much you will earn with workers’ compensation.