Can I work part time after receiving workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina?

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Bobby L. Bollinger, Jr. - Workers' Compensation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Bobby L. Bollinger, Jr.

Located in Charlotte, NCThe Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Charlotte, NC
Phone: 704-377-7677
Fax: 704-373-1977

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You can work part time if you are not able to return to work full time due to your injury. The point of workers’ compensation benefits is not to help you profit, but to give you a helping hand when you are not able to quite make ends meet due to an injury preventing you from working. For this reason, you may only work part time while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Working full time (defined as five days or 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year) will stop you from receiving your benefits. The thinking is that if you can work full time, you are not disabled enough to need the help. 

However, it is important to know that any work will reduce your disability payments. They will not stop unless you exceed the SGA threshold, but your benefits will get smaller. This means that in practice, you could end up getting a check for partial disability, not for total disability. It can also look bad if you are working when you are pursuing benefits, like you do not really need them. For that reason, many attorneys suggest that you avoid working at all while pursuing your disability benefits and work only as much as is necessary when you are receiving them.

Benefits May Not be Enough

The Social Security Administration knows that even with disability benefits, you may not be able to make ends meet, and so you may have to work a bit. However, there is a limit to your allowable monthly earnings. The amount varies each year, and by your condition, but as of 2018, a nonblind person on disability payments may only earn up to $1,180 per month from another source before losing their benefits. This amount of earnings (called “substantial gainful activity” or SGA), combined with your benefits, should put you at a level of income that you can subside on.

You should contact an attorney to discuss your exact situation if you plan to work while receiving disability benefits. It can be especially helpful to retain a board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law to assist you. Workers’ compensation law is very complex, and knowing that your lawyer has the skill and experience necessary to take on your case will ease your mind. You can also review a lawyer’s track record at the Industrial Commission website, using their database of decisions. That way, you can see how many times they have handled a situation such as yours.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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