While you are recovering from a workplace injury that took you off your feet, you are arguably deserving of a vacation then more than ever before. Should you start planning a tropical getaway while you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits? Or will that just make things more complicated than any vacation could be worth?
While you are getting workers’ comp, you are allowed to go on vacation. Nothing in workers’ compensation law or an insurance policy prohibits a recipient from using vacation time while they are also receiving workers’ comp benefits. The decision to go on vacation is between you and your employer, assuming you are completing light-duty work while you are still recovering.
However, there could be some issues that arise if you go on vacation. Specifically, what you do on vacation might come around and impact your workers’ comp in some unexpected ways.
Two things to consider about taking a vacation when getting workers’ comp:
- Don’t worsen your injuries: To some extent, you should plan your vacation based on your injuries and what sort of care they require. Be careful not to do anything that worsens your injury or prevents you from healing. If you come back from vacation and your injury is worse or different from what your treating physician expected it to be around that time of your recovery, then the insurance company will probably call for an independent medical evaluation (IME) to review your symptoms. The insurer might try to cancel your benefits if the medical evaluator concludes you did something to worsen your injury while on vacation.
- Don’t do what you said you couldn’t: Speaking of taking care of yourself while you are on vacation, you must only do what you know and said you can do when being medically evaluated. In other words, if you said that you can’t lift more than 10 pounds because of a back injury you suffered at work, then you shouldn’t go rock climbing or have a shopping spree that ends with a dozen heavy bags of souvenirs. If word gets out that you were acting contrary to your reported health condition while on vacation, then the insurance company will investigate it. At best, your benefits will be canceled. At worst, you will be accused of insurance fraud, which is a serious crime.
Overall, you shouldn’t forgo a much-deserved vacation just because you are on workers’ compensation. But it certainly pays to be mindful of your limitations because of your injury. You don’t want to worsen your injury, of course, but you also don’t want to lose your workers’ comp benefits. You can still have fun on vacation without going too far. You can even consider talking to a vacation planner and telling them that you have certain limitations that can’t be ignored. They can use their expertise to find fun and safe activities that fit right for you.