Workers Compensation - Washington

Tara Reck, Managing L&I Attorney at Reck Law PLLC - Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Can I Collect Unemployment While My Workers’ Compensation Claim is Open?

I’m often asked if injured workers can collect unemployment benefits while their workers’ compensation claim is open. In general, the short answer is – usually no. Injured workers cannot collect unemployment benefits and time-loss compensation benefits at the same time. Unemployment benefits are for individuals who are willing and able to work but are unable to get a job. Time-loss compensation is for people who are unable to work because of work injuries or occupational diseases.


Examples when injured workers can collect unemployment benefits

There are some circumstances whereby injured workers can collect unemployment benefits. The best example I can think of is when an injured worker is declared as capable of working but haven’t obtained a job yet. Usually, once a vocational counselor determines that an injured worker can return to work, then time-loss compensation benefits are immediately terminated. However, finding that an injured worker can return to work doesn’t mean they have a job to return too. When this happens, unemployment benefits can be a saving grace. They can provide the injured worker with some income and access to job search resources through WorkSource.


The takeaway

In summary, it is important for injured workers to know they cannot simultaneously collect unemployment and time-loss compensation benefits. However, under certain circumstances, it is fine to collect unemployment benefits. For example, when searching for a job or for options to return to work after an industrial injury or occupational disease. Additionally, WorkSource can provide many useful resources. These resources include help writing a resume, searching for available positions and work opportunities, and others.


  1. Would I be eligible for unemployment if I received a job offer from my employer while on time-loss that meets the requirements from my doctor? However, I do not wish to return to my employer where my injury occurred. I am looking elsewhere while in physical therapy.

    • L&I attorney

      June 24, 2020 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear that you are in this situation. I don’t represent people in the unemployment setting and am not in a good position to say with any certainty how the unemployment department will view this situation. However, I think it is likely you would be denied unemployment benefits on the basis that you elected not to take employment you were offered. That being said, in order for a job offer to be valid, it must meet certain requirements. Would you like to schedule a free consultation so that I can ask some questions I order to determine whether you have an argument that the job offer wasn’t valid?

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