The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

42. Persons Receiving Workers' Compensation

Receipt of workers' compensation temporary total disability benefits renders a worker ineligible for UI because someone who is completely disabled is not "able and available for work." G.L. c. 151A, § 25(d). However, a worker who is receiving partial disability workers' compensation benefits under G.L. c. 152, § 36, may still be able to work in some capacity and therefore would be able to collect UI if able to work on a part-time basis, with a reasonable accommodation if necessary. SRH § 1583(C).

In addition, a worker who has been on workers' compensation total disability for more than 7 weeks may have her base period extended for the period of disability up to 12 months. G.L. c. 151A, § 1(a). This will allow: 1) the calculation of a worker’s monetary eligibility to reach back to the period of employment as disability benefits are not counted as wages; and 2) the worker who has recovered enough to go back to work to collect UI benefits while engaged in a work search.

Note:  A claimant who is totally disabled, laid off, eligible for workers' compensation, and meets the requirement to extend her base period to include the period of time she was working, should consider not applying for UI until she is looking for work and a doctor certifies that she is able and available for at least part-time work of 15 hours a week (with or without reasonable accommodation). Otherwise, the claim will run but the claimant will not receive any benefit payments. Unfortunately, DUA takes the position that a claimant who mistakenly applies for UI in this situation cannot withdraw his claim. Because the base period is extended to include earnings up to a year prior to the receipt of unemployment benefits, this is one situation where the rule about applying for UI as soon as possible after leaving work may not be to the claimant’s advantage.  Before making a decision, the advocate should consult with a member of the Employment Rights Coalition.