You've been injured on the job, and after possibly months of trying to get compensation for your injury and lost time, you've finally done it. But now what do you do? Obviously, healing should be at the top of your list, but as you do that, what should you do about your job and your benefits? If you aren't limited to going on permanent disability, take a look at your job, the conditions that led to your being injured, and your doctor's advice about your abilities to decide where to go once you can start to resume a regular life.
Obviously, if conditions at your last job were awful and have not been remedied, you shouldn't go back there lest you get hurt again. But if the issues that led to your injury have been addressed, going back to work could be a good move. Not only would you be back in a routine, but the very fact that you're playing a vital role in the company could help improve your emotional health as well. Your financial compensation will likely improve as worker's compensation tends not to be as high as your regular salary. In many cases, you may still receive some worker's comp even after going back to work if you need continuing therapy or medications.
Your Doctor's Advice
Keep in mind that going back to work or not relies heavily on your doctor's OK. Even if your job conditions would be fantastic, if you are not yet recovered enough according to your doctor, you need to continue to heal instead of going back to work. This should sound like an obvious reaction, but if you have been off work for a while and are getting impatient to go back, be patient a little longer.
It is possible that you might be able to go back sooner if you limit duties. If you think that's possible, talk to your doctor about what you might be able to do and see if your boss can arrange for those limited activities.
Whatever you do, you need to alert your doctor and your state's worker's compensation department immediately. If the department finds out you've been working and claiming the same benefit level as you were when you weren't working, then you could have to pay fines or you could lose all of your benefits. It is better to be up front and risk having benefits cut partially than it is to hide the work you do and later lose everything.
It is also a good idea to keep talking to worker's compensation lawyer. He or she can advise you about the consequences of your decisions and help you figure out the best way to keep your benefits while gradually moving back into the workforce.