Will you still get workers' comp benefits if the doctor releases you to light duty? Hi, I'm Kenneth Berger. I represent injured workers in Columbia and throughout South Carolina. I made this video because we get this question a lot. I want you at home to know exactly what your rights are and how they can be protected. Workers’ comp is supposed to provide you with three key benefits. One: they're supposed to pay for all medical treatment related to your accident. Two: they're supposed to pay you for the time that you missed because of your work injury. And three: at the end of your case, you’re supposed to get compensated for any type of permanent impairment or disability in the form of a settlement. Along the way, the doctor may initially take you out of work and then later release you to light duty. When the doctor releases you to light duty, he or she may give you some physical restrictions. The physical restriction might be, say, 'no lifting greater than 10 pounds.' Whatever the physical restrictions are, your employer has one of two options. They can either accommodate those restrictions and provide light-duty work, or they can continue to allow you to receive your weekly workers' compensation check. Now, if your employer can accommodate the light duty that the doctor says you can do, you're going to need to perform that light-duty job or at least attempt it and give your absolute best. When injured workers refuse to do any work whatsoever, even if the doctor says they can do some light duty and even if the employer says that light duty is available to them, the injured worker risks forfeiting their workers’ comp benefits. If you have any questions about workers’ comp, I know it can be a confusing and very frustrating process. Know that you can call me for a free consultation or request free books right here on my website. Either way, know that, unlike the insurance company, we're here to help you, and we’re here to protect your rights throughout the entirety of your workers’ compensation claim.

Reduced Light Duty Wages After Work Injury

In many cases, someone will return to light duty yet not make as much money as they did before the injury. When this happens, you are entitled to 2/3s of the difference between your wages before the accident and your post-accident wages. This situation may arise due to a reduction in your number of hours (e.g. no overtime) or a decrease in your hourly pay. Regardless of the circumstances, you should receive a weekly check for 2/3s of the difference in earnings. 


On-the-job injuries often put people out of work for days, weeks, or months. However, at some point during a workers' compensation case, the doctor will probably release you to light duty. For instance, the doctor might say you can return to work if you do not have to lift anything over 5 pounds or stand longer than 30 minutes.

If your doctor places you on light duty, South Carolina law requires you to inform your employer of your restrictions. Your employer then has a couple of options: they can offer you light-duty work that complies with the doctor's orders, or they can have their insurance company continue paying you a weekly check.

In the event your employer chooses to give you a light-duty job within your restrictions, you must at least attempt to perform that job unless you firmly believe that doing so would aggravate your injury.

What Happens if I'm Released to Full Duty Too Early?

In South Carolina, you must attempt to return to full duty. Even if you disagree with the doctor's conclusion, it is important that you show up for work and do your best to complete as many of your responsibilities as possible. If you are unable to perform all duties of your job, you should ask for a second opinion or return to the first doctor and let him/her know which of your job activities you are struggling to complete.

Call a SC Workers' Comp Lawyer to Protect Your Legal Rights

South Carolina's workers' compensation laws are nuanced. When it comes to protecting your health and your rights, you do not have to take on the company, their insurance carrier, or the workers' comp commission by yourself.  Contact our workers' comp attorney team today, and allow us to help you by calling 803-790-2800

Kenneth Berger
Connect with me
Columbia and Myrtle Beach car accident and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.