Do I Need to Accept Light-Duty Work to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits?


Posted by: Chris

Many workers find that it is impossible to perform their job duties after suffering a work-related injury. For example, a worker who is required to lift heavy boxes throughout the day may not be able to perform this job duty after suffering a lower back injury. If this happens, your employer may offer you alternative work that you are capable of performing. Are you required to accept this light-duty work? What happens if you refuse it? Here’s what you should know:

Refusing Alternative Work After A Work-Related Injury

In Oklahoma, injured workers must agree to perform alternative light-duty work that is offered by their employers. Refusing to perform this work could affect your right to workers’ compensation benefits. If you are capable of performing alternative work but choose not to do so, the law states you are no longer entitled to temporary disability benefits. This means you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits if you turn down alternative work that you are capable of performing following a work-related injury. 

Accepting Alternative Work After A Work-Related Injury

Injured workers often earn less performing alternative work than they did prior to their injury. If you are in this situation, you could be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits to make up the difference. The benefits would be equal to 70% of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury average weekly wage.

For example, let’s say your pre-injury average weekly wage was $1000. Now that you are performing alternative work for your employer, your post-injury average weekly wage is $800. The difference between your pre-injury and post-injury average weekly wage is $200. You could be entitled to $140, or 70% of this difference, in temporary partial disability benefits. This helps injured workers recover most of the income they are losing as a result of their injuries. 

However, this rule only applies if your post-injury average weekly wage is less than the state’s temporary total disability rate. In 2019, the temporary total disability rate was $867.71. If you earn more than an average weekly wage of $867.71 performing alternative work for your employer, you are not entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. 

Have you suffered a work-related injury? If so, seek legal representation from the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys will aggressively fight to ensure you are fully compensated through the workers’ compensation system. Let us fight for you. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.