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 could 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 52 weeks. G.L. c. 151A, § 1(a). This allows: (1) calculation of the worker’s monetary eligibility to reach back to the period of employment, as workers compensation benefits are not counted as wages; and (2) the worker to collect UI benefits, who has recovered enough to go back to work 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 UI 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.