Returning to work after suffering an injury at work can be a risky move. If your claim says that you are completely unable to work and then you return to work while you are still able to receive workers compensation benefits, then your employer no longer has to continue paying your workers compensation benefits.
There is an option to have a trial return to work. According to North Carolina Statute §97-32.1, this is where you will return to work for a certain amount of time (up to 9 months), during this period you can still receive partial benefits from your employer. You would have to file certain forms and paperwork to do this. You want to make sure your employer and the Industrial Commission are fully aware that this is simply a trial period and you are not returning to work permanently at the current time. If you make a full return to work then your compensation benefits will be terminated. If during this trial period it is determined that you are still unfit to work then you can continue to receive full benefits that will be unimpaired by your trial return to work. The trial period can only last for a maximum of nine months.
In summary, in most situations if you fully return to work you will no longer receive workers’ compensation payments. However, you have a couple options other than fully returning to work. First, you can go back to work on a limited basis and receive reduced payments. A second option is returning to work for a trial period and, if you then decide you are not ready for a full return, then your full payments will resume and be unaffected. The main point is if you and your doctor both feel you are not ready to return to work then you should consult your workers’ compensation attorney before deciding to return to work. Returning to work prematurely will cause you to lose any future benefits.