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Workers Compensation benefits versus Unemployment benefits

The state of Massachusetts has two programs designed to assist people who are not working. One is the Unemployment Insurance program. The other is the Workers' Compensation Benefits program. Each program has its own eligibility requirements and it is only possible to collect benefits under one of them.

Unemployment benefits:

Although there are some categories of workers who are not eligible, most unemployed people are covered under the Massachusetts state unemployment insurance program. In order for temporarily unemployed people to collect benefits, certain eligibility requirements must be met.

1. The unemployment must not be the fault of the worker. In order to qualify under this guideline, workers must not have been fired "for deliberate misconduct or violation of a company rule." If the job was left voluntarily for "good cause" or because of an urgent personal reason, benefits may still be available.

2. The worker is able to work. If workers have been injured or are unable to work due to illness or any other reason, they cannot qualify for benefits under this program.

3. The worker is available for work. 

4. The worker is actively looking for employment. Workers need to keep a detailed log of their search for employment and have it ready to submit to the unemployment office when requested to prove they are actively seeking employment.

Non-citizens can collect unemployment benefits if they prove they were legally employed. Workers eligible for unemployment benefits are also eligible for medical services assistance. Job training programs may be available.

Workers' compensation benefits:

These benefits are available to workers who are injured on the job or contract a work-related illness. Benefits are also available for the surviving family of a worker who is killed on the job. The only qualification for collecting benefits is that the injury or illness is work-related. Non-citizens are eligible for the same benefits as citizens.

The injury does not have to occur in the work place as long as it can be shown that it is definitely work-related. For example, if a worker is driving as a requirement for the job, any injury sustained is covered. Driving to and from the job is not considered work-related.

There are three types of benefits available under this program:

1. Medical benefits which will pay for all medical expenses related to the injury or illness. The worker does not have to miss work in order to collect.

2. Monetary compensation for days the worker is unable to work. This benefit becomes available when a worker is unable to work for five calendar days. The days do not have to be consecutive.

3. Vocational rehabilitation if the worker is unable to return to the same job but is able to work in another field.

Filing claims for benefits and dealing with the intricacies of the law under both benefits program may require qualified legal assistance. The law offices of Kantrovitz & Kantrovitz LLP is here to help.