Illinois has very strong work comp benefits for injured workers.  But you have to be careful not to be your own worst enemy.
Take for example a guy that called me who was out on work comp after having a knee surgery.  He was receiving pay from the insurance company and at the same time started a new job within his restrictions.  So he was getting paid from that new company as well.  This is fraud on his part as he’s double dipping.  Work comp benefits are designed to replace income that you’ve lost.  His work ethic is admirable and I believe him when he told me that he didn’t know it wasn’t allowed, but he really put his case at risk.  The bigger issue is that he could have been charged with stealing from the insurance company and been arrested.
A worse example was another caller that did the same thing, but was also working beyond his restrictions of no lifting.  He felt the pay was too good to pass up, so he started a job that required him to move heavy equipment.  So he was telling his doctor one thing, but doing something else.  He got caught on surveillance video and his benefits were terminated.  His lawyer couldn’t do anything and quite honestly, neither could we (we did not accept the case).  This guy will be lucky if he doesn’t get arrested for work comp fraud.
You can do some work while you are out on work comp.  For example, even people that are permanently disabled have been able to do occasional work here or there and not risk their benefits.  If you help out a friend for a day or two and don’t do anything beyond your medical restrictions, you probably don’t have much to risk.
But if you take on a new job and still get benefits, you could be committing fraud.  In the very least, you could screw up your case.
So the bottom line is that you don’t want to risk your health or benefits.  If you are thinking about taking on a new job, ask your attorney first if it’s okay to do so.  Often it is, but you should weigh all the potential downfalls and make an educated decision before you do anything.

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By Michael Helfand