2024 How Long Can You Be on Workers’ Comp in California?

2024 How Long Can You Be on Workers’ Comp in California?
Marc S. Wiesner

Workers in California can file workers’ compensation claims if they are injured on the job. State law requires all employers, with a few exceptions, to carry this type of insurance policy.

The program is designed to help workers recover from their injuries and return to work without incurring unnecessary debts. If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, you can benefit greatly by working with a California workers’ compensation lawyer who will fight for the full benefits that you are entitled to.

Many of our clients come with questions about how long their benefits will last. The duration of your benefits depends on several factors.

How Soon Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation in California?

If you were injured on the job, it is important to apply for benefits as soon as possible. If you are physically able to, you can work with an attorney to start the application process the same day. This will ensure that your treatments can begin in a timely manner. Even when your benefits are not given immediately, the policy can retroactively pay you for any costs incurred during the early stages of your injury.

You are entitled to benefits that cover medical bills and other expenses that qualify under the labor code. Workers’ compensation may sound straightforward, but qualifying for benefits can be complicated if you do not have professional legal help.

How Long Will My Benefits Last?

Qualifying for benefits requires confirmation that your injury resulted from work-related tasks or your work environment. A medical doctor who works within the workers’ compensation system will confirm that your illness or injury is related to work. Once this has been verified, you will receive payments for missed time at work, and qualifying medical benefits will be paid by your workers’ compensation insurance provider for two years or up to 104 weeks.

The benefits can be spread out over five years, meaning you do not have to receive payments consecutively. Certain types of injury and conditions may qualify you for a longer benefits period of up to 240 weeks. Burns, chronic lung disease, and certain medical conditions qualify for this extension.

How Long Will My Medical Treatments Last?

Workers’ compensation programs are designed to deliver benefits for as long as medically necessary. Treatments are administered at the recommendation of a medical doctor, and insurance policies are supposed to defer to medical professionals for those cases.

The Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule lays out treatments that are evidence-based and proven to relieve or cure work-related injuries. If your treatment plan extends beyond the Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule guidelines, your doctor will have to provide evidence that extending your treatment or deviating from the standard treatment is both necessary and effective. Treatment plans are usually reviewed through a process known as utilization review.

Temporary Disability

Temporary disability, also known as TD, allows for payments when you are unable to return to work for more than three days or if you are hospitalized overnight. The payments are made every two weeks. Temporary disability payments stop when you return to work. TD payments can last up to 104 weeks within a five-year period. If a qualifying injury or condition is causing you to miss work, your insurance provider may approve payments for up to 240 weeks over a five-year period.

Permanent Disability

Permanent disability, also known as PD, is a status given to people who have a long-term disability. For some workers, this means that they have physical impairments that limit what they are able to do when they return to work if they return at all. The benefits may not cover all the income you lose from your disability. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can research if you qualify for additional benefits, possibly through Social Security.


Q: How Long Can a Person Be on Workers’ Comp in California?

A: A person can be on workers’ compensation for up to 104 weeks or two years as long as they qualify for benefits. The 104-week period can be spread over five years. Before benefits can be given, the insurance provider will confirm that the injury is work-related. If the injury leads to short-term or long-term disability, the benefits can last much longer.

Q: What Is the Five-Year Rule for Workers’ Comp in California?

A: The five-year rule refers to the total time period that temporary disability benefits can be given within a five-year period. Temporary disability benefits are limited to 104 weeks. If you have a qualifying medical condition, that limit can be extended to 240 weeks. Chronic lung disease and Hepatitis B or C are two qualifying conditions under California law.

Q: Can an Employer Fire You While on Workers’ Comp in California?

A: Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. California is a right-to-work state, so your employer can fire you for any lawful reason. If your company undergoes layoffs while you happen to be on disability leave, you do not have any special protection from being laid off. If you were fired in violation of the terms of your contract, a wrongful termination attorney can take legal action on your behalf.

Q: Can I Get Another Job While on Workers’ Comp in California?

A: There is no law restricting an employee from starting a new job while on workers’ compensation, but anyone who takes on a new job must continue to meet certain requirements. You will be required to undergo medical treatments as recommended by your doctor. If you are prescribed bed rest, taking on a new job could jeopardize your benefits.

Schedule Your California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Consultation Today

Workers’ compensation rules are complicated. Your insurance provider will likely set conditions that you have to follow in order to continue qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits. Certain medical conditions may qualify you for extended benefits. Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can provide clarity as you navigate the complicated network of providers and rules that you will have to follow while receiving benefits.

We’re here to simplify the process. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.

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