Returning to Work After a Workers’ Comp Claim

A construction worker holding his injured leg after a work injury.

Returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim can be a significant milestone in the recovery process for many individuals. It marks their transition back into the workforce, allowing them to regain independence and resume their professional responsibilities. 

However, it is crucial to approach this phase with careful consideration and preparation to ensure a smooth reintegration into the workplace. It is essential to understand the various aspects related to returning to work after a workers’ comp claim, such as:

  • Understanding your rights and obligations
  • Communicating effectively with your employer
  • Easing back into job duties gradually
  • Seeking necessary accommodations if required
  • Maintaining ongoing medical support during this period

How do you return to work after a workers’ comp claim?

Returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim requires careful planning and open communication with your healthcare provider and employer and following these steps:

  • Consult with your healthcare provider: Before returning to work, thoroughly discuss your readiness for resuming job duties with your treating physician. They can provide guidance on any necessary work restrictions or accommodations needed.
  • Review your rights and responsibilities: Familiarize yourself with your rights, the laws, and the protections safeguarding against discrimination or retaliation due to past injuries
  • Inform your employer: Notify your employer of your intention to return to work and provide them with any relevant medical documentation or clearance from your healthcare provider. Discuss the details of your return, including the anticipated start date, work schedule, and any accommodations, modifications to job tasks, or restrictions you may require.
  • Ease back into work gradually: Consider a phased approach that gradually increases your workload or hours over time to allow for physical and mental adjustment
  • Maintain ongoing medical care: Even after returning to work, attend any necessary medical appointments and follow treatment plans prescribed by healthcare professionals

When should you return to work after a workers’ comp claim?

The timing of your return to work after a workers’ comp claim will depend on several factors, including:

  • The nature and severity of your injury
  • The recommendations of your healthcare provider
  • Any work restrictions or accommodations you need

It is important to remember each individual’s situation is unique. Typically, you should only consider returning to work when you have sufficiently recovered and received clearance from your healthcare provider. 

What happens if you get caught working while on workers’ comp?

It can have serious consequences if you are caught working while on Colorado workers’ comp without being medically cleared to return to work. Engaging in work activities while receiving workers’ compensation benefits is typically considered fraud or an act of noncompliance with the terms of your claim.

The specific repercussions will depend on the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, as well as the policies of your employer and insurance company. Generally, if you are found to be working while on workers’ comp without notifying the appropriate parties, it may result in:

  • Loss of benefits: Your workers’ compensation benefits may be suspended or terminated if evidence is found that you were engaged in employment-related activities
  • Repayment demands: You may be required to repay any benefits you have received while working, as doing so would indicate that you were not eligible
  • Legal implications: Engaging in fraudulent activities can have legal consequences, including fines and potential criminal charges
  • Damage to credibility and reputation: Being caught working while on workers’ comp could damage your credibility. It may also impact future employment opportunities or claims within the workers’ compensation system.

If there are legitimate reasons why you need to return to work or engage in some form of employment while still on workers’ comp, it is crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider and employer and follow the appropriate legal procedures.

How many hours can you work on workers’ comp?

The rules regarding working while on workers’ comp benefits in Colorado can vary depending on the nature of your injury and specific circumstances. The guidance provided by the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Colorado states that if you are able to work in a modified capacity within your physical restrictions, you may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability benefits.

One common rule is the “light duty” or “modified work” provision. Under this provision, if your treating physician determines you have some capacity to work but with restrictions or limitations due to your injury, they may recommend that you return to work on light-duty tasks or with reduced hours.

The specific number of allowable hours will depend on various factors, such as the severity of your injury, the nature of your job, and your healthcare provider’s recommendations. While working a reduced number of hours, you usually receive partial workers’ compensation benefits.

Is there a cap on the number of hours you can work?

Regarding the number of hours you can work while receiving workers’ comp benefits in Colorado, no set limit is specified by law. Instead, it depends on factors such as your pre-injury wages, potential wage loss due to reduced work hours or diminished earning capacity caused by your injury, and whether you have returned to suitable employment within these limitations.

To determine how many hours you can work while on workers’ compensation in Colorado, it is recommended to consult with a qualified Colorado workers’ comp lawyer or seek advice from the Division of Workers’ Compensation. They will provide you with accurate information based on your specific situation and the laws applicable in Colorado.

When does workers’ comp end?

The end of Colorado workers’ comp benefits can occur in a few different scenarios, such as:

  • Maximum medical improvement (MMI): MMI is when medical treatment has plateaued, and it is unlikely that further significant improvement in the injury will occur
  • Return to work: If you have recovered from your injury and can return to work without restrictions or accommodations, your workers’ comp benefits cease
  • Settlement or agreement: In some cases, parties may reach a settlement or agreement resolving the workers’ compensation claim. This can result in the termination of benefits as outlined in the settlement agreement.
  • Statute of limitations: If you have not filed a claim within the specified timeframe, you may no longer be eligible for benefits
  • Death or permanent disability: In cases where an injury results in death or permanent total disability, workers’ compensation benefits often continue beyond other typical endpoints

It is important to note that every situation is unique, and the specific conditions and circumstances surrounding each case will determine when workers’ comp benefits end for an individual worker.

How can a Colorado workers’ comp lawyer help with my claim?

A workers’ compensation lawyer in Colorado can provide invaluable assistance throughout the entire claims process, including: 

  • Legal expertise and guidance: A workers’ comp lawyer has in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations specific to Colorado’s Workers’ Compensation Act
  • Claim evaluation and eligibility: An experienced attorney will evaluate the details of your case to determine if you have a valid claim for benefits
  • Assistance with claim filing: Your lawyer can complete and submit the necessary paperwork accurately and within the designated deadlines
  • Communication with insurance companies: A workers’ comp lawyer can handle communication on your behalf, advocating for your rights and negotiating fair settlements if necessary
  • Gathering evidence and building a strong case: An attorney will assist in obtaining this evidence and building a solid case to strengthen your claim for benefits
  • Representation in hearings and appeals: If your claim is denied or disputed, a workers’ comp lawyer can represent you in administrative hearings and appeals processes
  • Ensuring fair compensation: Your attorney will fight for fair compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and any other applicable benefits under Colorado’s workers’ compensation laws

When should I contact a Colorado workers’ comp lawyer?

A workers' comp lawyer reviewing paperwork at their desk with a gavel next to them.

It is advisable to contact a Colorado workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible after suffering a work-related injury or illness when: 

  • Your claim has been denied
  • The severity of your injury or disability limits your ability to work
  • You face issues with medical treatment or insurance company communications
  • You are unsure about your rights or options
  • Your employer refuses to file your claim
  • Your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim

By contacting a Colorado workers’ comp lawyer from Bachus & Schanker early in the process, you can benefit from our expertise and guidance at each stage of your claim. We ensure that you meet all necessary deadlines, properly document your case, and advocate for your best interests throughout the entire process.


Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. (2023).

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim. (2023).Workers’ Compensation Guide. (2023).

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