Frequently Asked Questions - Can I Get Unemployment if I Get Hurt at Work?
In order to be eligible for Florida Unemployment Benefits, you must meet several criteria:
- You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. This means you did not quit for personal reasons or were terminated for misconduct. Please note that poor job performance does not disqualify you from unemployment.
- You must be totally or partially unemployed.
- You must have a minimum amount of wages earned in what is called the "base period," which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
- You must be willing, able and ready to work.
If you are on a no-work status from your authorized workers’ compensation doctor and collecting lost wage checks from the employer and their insurance carrier, you CAN NOT collect unemployment benefits. In fact, it is illegal to collect both Unemployment Benefits and Temporary Total benefits (which are benefits paid by workers’ compensation while on a no-work status). Again, if your doctor has you on a no-work status and you are being paid lost wage checks from workers’ compensation, you are not eligible to receive Unemployment Benefits.
In most situations, your treating doctor will not place you on any work status, but rather assign light or modified work restrictions. In those situations, you may be eligible for Unemployment Benefits if you meet the criteria above. However, it may not always be of any benefit to apply for Unemployment in every situation. Specifically, if you are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits, please understand that even if you are accepted for Unemployment Benefits, the Employer/Carrier can take an offset for every dollar received from other sources. Unemployment Benefits are primary and Temporary Partial Disability benefits from workers’ compensation is supplemental only. The sum of the two benefits may not exceed the amount of Temporary Partial Benefits that would have otherwise been payable. Therefore, it is not often beneficial to apply for Unemployment Benefits if already receiving workers’ compensation checks since it will not likely result in you receiving additional money. In other words, if you are already receiving checks from workers’ compensation, it is probably not in your best interests to apply for Unemployment Benefits.
If you are receiving workers’ compensation checks, the Employer/Carrier will typically require you to complete earning reports documenting any earnings or income during the time period in question. At the end of each Employee Earning Report (also called “DWC-19s”), you must attest under penalty of perjury that you are providing correct information. If you fail to report earnings or income including Unemployment Benefits, your claim could be denied on a misrepresentation/fraud defense. If you are provided employee earnings forms to complete and you aren’t sure what to do, you should speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer before completing and returning the forms. Insurance carriers also have the right to require you to sign a release to obtain documentation directly from Unemployment. Failure to sign the release within 21 days can result in the insurance carrier suspending your benefits.
Often, an injured worker may return back to work for a period of time after their accident and then later lose their job for reasons unrelated to your accident. In most cases, this is perfectly legal unless you were terminated specifically because of your work accident or because of your race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin. If you were terminated because work is slow or poor performance, your employer does have the right to let you go. However, you may be eligible to receive Unemployment Benefits if you meet the criteria above.
All claims in Florida must be completed online. If you wish to apply for Unemployment Benefits, this can be done by going to their site and clicking on “Reemployment Assistance”. The process should take approximately 30-60 minutes to complete and must be completed within 72 hours of beginning, or you will have to restart the process. Once your claim is filed, you will receive a confirmation notice that your claim has been received. If your claim is accepted, it will take three to four weeks to receive your first payment. The first week-the week you filed your claim-is a "waiting week" during which no benefits are paid. If you do not receive a confirmation notice, call the Claims Assistance Center toll-free at 1-800-204-2418.
The benefits available to an individual vary based on the criteria used to assign the benefits. The only way to be sure of your eligibility is to submit a claim. The amount of benefits also varies per individual. A rough estimate of expected benefits would be half of an individual's previous full-time wages, up to a maximum of $275 per week. Typically, Reemployment Assistance lasts up to 26 weeks or until employment is found. Once a new full-time job is found, there is no more need for reemployment assistance, so the benefits stop. However, working part-time or temporarily does not necessarily end the benefits.
Every two weeks, you will need to go on the internet and use your PIN to claim your weeks of unemployment. Within 18 days of filing your claim, an Information Notice will be sent to you with details on when you will need to claim weeks. You will have 14 days from your scheduled claim date to claim your weeks, but you MUST claim your weeks in order to receive your unemployment benefits. If you are late, you could be denied your benefits, so make sure to always keep the date for claiming handy.
When you claim your weeks, you will have to report any work you have done in the weeks being claimed as well as the gross earnings (pre-tax wages). Even if you have not received payment from the employer yet, the earnings must still be reported for overtime worked. Failure to report work and earnings is a crime and can carry severe penalties. If you should encounter any issues with your claim, your PIN, or your reception of benefits, do not delay in fixing them. Call Claims Assistance toll-free at 1-800-204-2418 to speak with a program representative.
If you are denied Unemployment Benefits, you may file an appeal online. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity refers to those seeking benefits as “Claimants”. Claimants, employers, and authorized representatives may appeal a decision that was not made in their favor. Any appeals must wait until after a determination is mailed or delivered to file an appeal. The determination will also contain instructions on how to file an appeal.