What Happens If You Get Caught Working While on Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ compensation is meant to support an employee until he or she recovers from a work-related injury or illness and is fit enough to return to work. If you are healthy enough to work a second job while receiving workers’ compensation, you can expect the workers’ comp insurance administrator to question your need for continued benefits.

However, you may be able to work and continue to receive workers’ comp benefits under certain circumstances. You should be upfront with your employer about the status of your health and your ability to work if you are receiving workers’ compensation.

If the treating physician has released you to return to light-duty work and your employer offers you part-time or light-duty work, you must take it to continue receiving benefits. If you think your employer is not treating you fairly or you are unsure about how workers’ comp rules apply to your situation, you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

At Hardison & Cochran, our legal team includes experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who focus on advocating for injured workers.

If you are receiving workers’ compensation in North Carolina and have questions about how your claim is being handled, contact us for a free strategic consultation. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are skilled at resolving disputes about workers’ comp benefits and eligibility.

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Can You Collect Workers’ Comp and Still Work?

A left-hand injured man is filling out a health insurance form at work.

In most cases, you cannot legally work and still receive weekly wage-replacement benefits through workers’ compensation.

If you are found to be working for pay while receiving workers’ compensation wage-replacement benefits, you can expect:

  • An end to workers’ comp benefits.
  • A demand to repay benefits paid while you were working.
  • Possible criminal charges of insurance fraud for misrepresenting your injury status to collect workers’ compensation.

The severity of the consequences for working a second job while receiving workers’ comp may depend on the length of time and extent of benefits paid while you were working.

Criminal Charges Associated with Workers’ Comp Fraud

The Criminal Investigations division of the N.C. Industrial Commission operates as a law enforcement agency and is responsible for conducting criminal investigations into cases of suspected workers’ compensation fraud. This includes fraud on the part of employees regarding the collection of workers’ compensation benefits.

Under North Carolina law, willfully making a false statement or misrepresenting a material fact for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits is fraud. The charge and penalty depend on the monetary amount of the benefit or payment:

  • Obtaining benefits of less than $1,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail, probation and/or community service and a fine.
  • Obtaining benefits of $1,000 or more is a Class H felony, which is punishable by up to 39 months in prison.

Can You Work Another Job While on Workers’ Comp?

Two people are giving a worker other documents to work on while he is overloaded with existing papers on the desk.

Sometimes, a doctor will clear an employee to return to light-duty work while the employee is still recovering under the doctor’s care. In such a case, if the employer offers part-time or light-duty work, the employee must take it to continue to receive benefits.

An employer is not required to offer light-duty work, but many companies would rather pay an employee for some kind of useful work than continue to pay insurance benefits.

Some employers might even be open to a restless employee working for another company part-time until they were ready to return to work for them. For example, a construction worker might take some light clerical work from another company before they were ready to get back on the scaffolding at their construction job.

An employee who was working but still had an open workers’ comp claim would see any wages they earned deducted from their wage-replacement benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance would continue to pay all medical bills related to the employee’s occupational injury.

For an employee who is cleared for light duty but has misgivings about their readiness to work, state law allows a trial return to work for up to nine months. If the trial return to work is unsuccessful, then full workers’ comp benefits resume immediately. If the employer and employee disagreed about the employee’s ability to return to work, a workers’ compensation attorney could help the employee seek to retain continued benefits.

Consult with an Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorney

Benjamin Cochran (on the right) the Managing Partner and an experienced attorney at law based in North Carolina.

North Carolina workers’ compensation rules are complicated. It is essential to stay within the bounds of workers’ comp law to continue to receive benefits. If you have questions about how your claim is being handled or about the benefits you believe you are eligible to receive, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran want to help you.

You can learn more about our services with a free initial consultation. We serve injured workers across North Carolina, including those located in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Wake County, Fayetteville, Dunn, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park, Wilmington, the Triangle, the Triad, and Southern Pines.

Our Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Are Here To Help You

For prompt assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, reach out to a skilled Hardison & Cochran attorney by dialing our toll-free number at (800) 434-8399. Alternatively, you can conveniently fill out our online contact form. Rest assured, our dedicated team will promptly respond to your inquiry within 24 hours to arrange a complimentary initial legal consultation. Take the first step towards securing the compensation you deserve today!

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.


  • Bridgers says:

    A colleague at work recently had an unfortunate accident on the job that resulted in a serious injury. As we were discussing their situation, they mentioned how they were struggling with the workers’ compensation process. This is why I’m now quite motivated to help them find a skilled workers’ comp attorney who can guide them through the legalities and ensure they receive the support and compensation they rightfully deserve. Thanks for the info on how most of the time, workers’ compensation allows you to get weekly pay replacement benefits even when you are legally unable to work.

  • Lauren says:

    Ugh, my dad’s friend had this rough gig at work that turned into a full-blown injury saga. I think my dad’s been telling him that it’s time to bring in the big guns – a workers’ compensation lawyer because why navigate the compensation labyrinth solo when you can have a legal Jedi fighting for your rights? I don’t think they even know that workers’ compensation is intended to help an employee until they are well enough to return to work after recovering from a sickness or accident sustained at work.

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