What do you mean – I can’t collect temporary total or partial disability benefits for being hurt on one job if I continue to work my second job? Unfortunately, that is the law in Maryland. In fact, if you do so, you could be subject to criminal prosecution!
Let me explain the problem by using the following example:
- You have two jobs. The first is a fulltime position in an office from which you earn $900.00 a week. The second is a part time job working at a grocery job from which you make $300.00 a week.
- You hurt your knee while doing your grocery job and require surgery resulting in an inability to do the grocery job for six months. As a result you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits equivalent to two thirds of your salary – $200.00 per week – during that six month period.
- You are still physically able to do your office job.
In a similar scenario the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals in two separate cases made clear that if the employee continues to work the office job he or she forfeits the right to receive $200.00 a week while the knee heals. This creates an impossible choice for the injured employee – accept the $200.00 and give up the larger salary, or continue to work the office job and create a windfall for the grocery store where they were injured. Either choice will financially devastate the injured employee and discriminates against productive members of our society without any offsetting definable purpose.
The impact on the injured employee of the employer/insurer discovering that the injured worker has double dipped so, to speak, can be devastating. Since most temporary total disability checks contain a warning against cashing them if the injured worker is working, the argument is created that doing so is a knowing violation of the law. The sanctions can range from future reductions reducing other payments owed to repayment, including a high level of interest beyond the date of the Commission Order requiring repayment. The potential framework also exists for the employer/insurer to argue that all right to future compensation is denied and for criminal prosecution (although this author would dispute whether cashing the check without other conduct reaches the level of criminal conduct contemplated in the fraudulent representation statute – no Appellate Court has clearly ruled on the subject so the scope of the statute is still unknown as of November 2010).
If you think this is unfair feel free to contact your legislative representative. This is a law that cries out for change!
By Clifford B. Sobin, Esq.