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Workers’ Comp in New York: Everything You Need to Know

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
November 18, 2022  ·  10 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.

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When you get sick or injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits until you can return to work. However, it isn’t always clear what steps you should take to start the process.

Whether you plan to file a claim or already started the process, this guide will explain everything you need to know about how workers’ comp works in New York. We’ll explain who qualifies, how the application process should go, which benefits you’re entitled to, and other special considerations.


Who qualifies for New York workers' comp?

You may qualify for workers’ comp if you get injured or sick on the job and you work for a New York employer who withholds taxes from your paychecks. You don’t have to be a state resident to get benefits.

Employees at for-profit businesses qualify, including part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. Volunteers and family members involved in these businesses can also get workers' comp even though they don’t get paid.

Most non-profit employees are eligible for workers' comp unless they perform certain educational or religious duties. People who volunteer for non-profits and don’t get paid don’t qualify for benefits from their non-profits, though, except for volunteer firefighters and first responders.

Independent contractors do not qualify for workers' comp through their employer. However, New York State has strict laws for who qualifies as a contractor versus an employee. Make sure to check New York’s guide to identifying independent contractors, which includes special criteria for construction, transportation, and other industries.


Injuries that qualify for workers' comp in New York

You can qualify for workers' compensation if you have an injury or illness that happens while you’re performing work for your employer. However, you can only qualify for payments if your injury keeps you out of work for at least seven days.

Types of injuries that may qualify you for workers’ comp benefits include

  • Injuries from one-time events, like a fall or car accident
  • Diseases or illnesses triggered by work conditions, such as lung disease from asbestos exposure
  • Conditions developed from repetitive work-related activities, including carpal tunnel or back injuries
  • Preexisting conditions that get worse due to your job duties or an on-the-job injury
  • Mental health conditions, like PTSD, though these may be hard to get benefits for unless you can show they resulted from a specific event

If you aren’t sure whether your condition qualifies for workers' comp, take our two-minute workers’ comp quiz. We’ll get in touch with more information if your situation sounds like it qualifies for New York benefits.


How to file for workers' comp in New York

To file for workers’ comp in New York, notify your employer in writing about your injury as soon as possible and file Form C-3 with the Workers' Compensation Board, the state’s workers' comp department.

The Board recommends notifying your employer within 30 days. It might still be possible to get benefits if you wait more than 30 days, but you do need to file Form C-3 within two years of your injury or illness to qualify.

The 4 ways to file Form C-3

You can choose from three ways to file your Form C-3:

The New York workers' comp process

The workers' comp process in New York generally follows these steps:

  1. Get emergency medical care if needed
  2. Notify your employer of your injury
  3. File your workers’ comp claim
  4. Earn benefits for lost wages
  5. Receiving continuing treatment
  6. Reach maximum medical improvement
  7. Return to work or receive long-term benefits

Below we break down each step in more detail.

1. Get emergency medical care if needed

Whether you need emergency care or not, you have the right to receive medical treatment for your injury. Make sure to tell the doctor that your injury is related to work and give them your employer’s contact information.

2. Notify your employer in writing

Let your employer know about your condition in a written document that you can print or save, such as an email or physical letter. Always keep that notice for your records in case you have to deal with a dispute.

You should ideally notify your employer within 30 days. Then they must notify their insurance company within 10 days.

3. File your claim

File Form C-3 with the Workers' Compensation Board as soon as possible. You must file within two years of the injury date. Within 14 days of receiving notice from your employer, your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company will contact you to tell you if your claim is approved.

If the insurance company wants to challenge your claim, they must notify you within 18 days of your injury or within 10 days of when they received notification from your employer, whichever date is later. The next step would be to attend a hearing. The state board will contact you with more information on your hearing. You’re entitled to work with a workers’ comp lawyer for your hearing.

4. Earn benefits for lost wages

If your injury or illness keeps you out of work for at least seven days, you’re entitled to workers’ comp payments worth a portion of your lost wages. Payments come from your employer’s insurer and they must generally start payments within 18 days of learning about your injury. You’ll continue to get payments every two weeks.

If you feel that you’re eligible for higher benefits than the Board approved for you, you can appeal the decision. You may benefit from hiring a lawyer to help you.

5. Receiving continuing treatment

If your injury requires follow-up appointments or continuing care, you must get all workers' comp-related treatment from a healthcare provider certified by the Workers' Compensation Board. The doctor should create a care plan to help you recover and return to work if possible.

Your employer or their insurance company should be able to help you find doctors. Some workers also qualify for travel expense reimbursement while getting treatment.

6. Reach maximum medical improvement

Once you have recovered as much as you can from your injury or illness, you’ve reached a level called maximum medical improvement, or MMI. Your workers’ comp doctor will do an evaluation to determine whether you’ve returned to your pre-injury health levels or still have some level of impairment. If the doctor reports that you still have some level of disability, you can qualify for further benefits.

If you disagree with your doctor’s care plan or diagnosis at any point, you should consider talking with a workers’ comp lawyer. They can guide you on how to get a more accurate plan for treatment. Learn more about situations when you should consider a workers’ comp lawyer.

7. Return to work or receive long-term benefits

If you recover enough to go back to work in the same capacity as before, your workers’ comp benefits will end. You can qualify for ongoing benefits if your condition impacts your ability to return to work.


Types of New York workers' compensation

New York provides two kinds of workers’ compensation: temporary disability and permanent disability.

These benefits vary based on the degree to which you can work, putting workers’ comp into four total categories:

  • Temporary partial disability: You temporarily have a reduced ability to work because of your condition. The lost wage payments for workers in this category are worth a percentage of the maximum possible payments, based on the degree of disability. Your doctor will determine the degree of disability.
  • Temporary total disability: You can’t work at all due to your condition, but your doctor expects that you’ll be able to return to work in the future. You’ll get maximum lost wage payments until you can get back to work.
  • Permanent partial disability: You’ve recovered as much as possible from your work injury and you can return to work, but in a limited capacity compared to what you could do before the injury. The size of payments will depend on what part of your body was injured and the degree of your disability.
  • Permanent total disability: You’ve recovered as much as possible but you’ll never be able to return to work because of your illness or injury. People who receive this type of workers' comp get the maximum lost wage benefits they’re entitled to, with no time limit.

How much is workers' comp in New York?

New York workers' comp provides payments to cover lost wages, worth two-thirds of your pay up to a maximum of $1,125.46 for injuries that happened after July 1, 2022.

More specifically, lost wage benefits are worth up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) and could differ based on your degree of your disability:

⅔ of AWW x % degree of disability = weekly payment

Related: How much are maximum workers' comp payments in New York?

Calculating average weekly wages

To calculate your benefit amount, your employer will provide the state workers’ compensation board with information on your wages for one year before your accident. The state will use that information to calculate your AWW.

Determining degree of disability

Your workers' comp doctor or an insurance medical examiner will perform an evaluation to determine your degree of disability, which is given as a percentage. For example, if you injure your arm with the degree of disability set at 70%, it means the current functionality of your arm is at 70% of what it was before your injury.

Additional payments you may receive

You may receive supplemental payments for certain types of permanent disability. As an example, you could qualify for an additional $20,000 payment if you became permanently disfigured from your condition.

On top of your wage and disability payments, workers' comp will cover medical expenses related to your illness or injury.


When will my workers' comp payments start?

You will receive your first lost wage payment within 18 days of your illness or injury or 10 days from when your employer’s insurer receives notification, whichever date is later. From there, payments are sent every two weeks.

Since you need to wait almost two weeks from reporting your injury until payments start, it’s important to report your injury and start the process as soon as possible.

If your employer doesn’t notify their insurer quickly, you have two options for taking action:

  • Contact your employer’s insurer yourself: Employers must post a “Notice of Compliance — Workers’ Compensation Law” form in the workplace. Look for this notice to find your employer’s insurer’s contact information.
  • Notify the Workers’ Compensation Board: If you can’t find your employer’s insurer’s information, contact the Workers’ Compensation Board directly.

At that point, if you can’t get in touch with either your employer’s insurance or the Board, contact a workers' comp lawyer to find the right channels. (Atticus can help connect you with an experienced workers’ comp. Fill out our questionnaire to get started.)


What other benefits can I get from workers' comp?

In addition to lost wage and medical coverage, New York workers’ compensation includes the following benefits:

  • Training and job services: The Board offers vocational rehabilitation counselors who can help you find jobs, train for work, and find other services to get back to work.
  • Social services: If you have issues finding housing or social services after your injury, Board social workers offer free services. They can also work with the vocational counselors to connect you with the resources you need to work again.
  • Survivor benefits: If your spouse, parent, or family member dies from a work-related injury or illness, you could qualify for ongoing benefits and funeral expense coverage. This program can also apply to workers who die from complications related to an incident filed for workers' compensation.

Are workers' comp benefits taxable?

No, New York workers' comp benefits aren’t taxable and you won’t have to pay any of them back when tax season comes around.


How long can you be on workers’ comp in New York?

You can receive payments until you reach your maximum level of recovery, as determined by your doctor. Then if your doctor believes you’re still not at 100% of your pre-injury capacity for work, you can continue receiving workers’ comp payments (permanent disability payments). How long you receive these additional payments will depend on which part of your body was injured and the severity of your injury.

New York law generally categorizes injuries into two types: schedule and non-schedule. Scheduled benefits are for injuries to limbs, hands, feet, your vision, or your hearing. Non-scheduled benefits are for injuries to more central body parts, like your brain, heart, lungs, spine, or pelvis.

Time limits for schedule injuries

The table below shows the maximum limit for New York workers’ comp payments if you have a schedule injury, depending on which body part was injured:

Body part injured

Max payment length

Arm

312 weeks (6 years)

Leg

288 weeks (5.5 years)

Hand

244 weeks (4.7 years)

Foot

205 weeks (3.9 years)

Eye

160 weeks (3 years)

Thumb

75 weeks (1.4 years)

First Finger

46 weeks

Second Finger

30 weeks

Third Finger

25 weeks

Fourth Finger

15 weeks

Big Toe

38 weeks

Other Toe

16 weeks

Time limits for non-schedule injuries

Below are the time limits for New York workers’ comp payments if you have a non-schedule injury:

  • 225 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of 15% or less
  • 250 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 15% through 30%
  • 275 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 30% through 40%
  • 300 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 40% through 50%
  • 350 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 50% through 60%
  • 375 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 60% through 70%
  • 400 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 70% through 75%
  • 425 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 75% through 80%
  • 450 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 80% through 85%
  • 475 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 85% through 90%
  • 500 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 90% through 95%
  • 525 weeks for loss of wage earning capacity of greater than 95%

People who receive total permanent disability benefits have no time limit on the payments they receive. And if you receive permanent benefits, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI).


Can I work while on workers' comp in New York?

It may be possible to work while getting workers’ comp, but you could lose benefits if you perform duties beyond the capacity you or your doctor have claimed. This applies whether you’re returning to your job or working a second job.

The safest option is to follow your doctor’s advice on what kind of work you can do. If the doctor says you can’t do your job because of your injury but you return to your job anyway, the insurance company or state board may dispute your claim and you could lose benefits.

You may be able to go back to your job if your employer offers you a different position or modified duties. But again, stay within the limits of what your doctor says you can do. For example, if your doctor judges that you can’t lift more than 10 pounds, but you start a job that requires you to lift 15 pounds, you could lose benefits.

If you need more money or want to work, one good option is to talk with a workers' comp lawyer before taking any jobs. They’ll help you understand what jobs you can do without risking your benefits.


Is NYC workers' comp different from New York State workers' comp?

Workers' comp in New York City follows the same rules as the rest of New York state. If you live or work in the city and you’re trying to get workers' comp, you can work with a lawyer from any part of New York state.

Our guide to finding a lawyer will help you find a good fit.


Do I need a lawyer to get workers' comp in New York?

You don’t need a workers' comp lawyer to get benefits in New York. There are some situations when you should consider a lawyer, though. Studies have also shown that workers' comp settlements involving a lawyer are five times larger than for people who don’t hire one.

Here are some common situations when you should hiring a workers' comp lawyer:

  • Your employer doesn’t cooperate or file your claim quickly enough.
  • The Workers’ Compensation Board or your employer’s insurer denies your claim.
  • Your workers' comp doctor gives an inaccurate diagnosis or says you can go back to work sooner than you think you actually can.
  • You believe you should qualify for higher payments than you’re receiving.
  • The insurance company doesn’t agree to pay all of your medical expenses.

Workers’ comp law is complex. If you get confused about the workers' comp process or you feel you aren’t getting the support you deserve, contact a lawyer. Even if you aren’t sure you need one, a free consultation will help you figure out what they could do for you.


Get a workers' comp lawyer through Atticus

If you’re interested in talking with a lawyer to help you receive all of the workers' comp benefits that you’re entitled to, Atticus can help. Our team of experts will connect you with a New York workers' comp lawyer to support you every step of the way.

Get in touch today and someone on our team will follow up with more information.

Maximize your workers' comp benefits.

Frequently asked questions: workers’ comp in New York

How do I file a workers’ comp claim in New York?

First, give your employer written notice of your work injury within 30 days. Then you should file Form C-3 with the state Workers' Compensation Board. You can find more details in our guide to filing for workers’ comp in New York.

How much does workers’ comp pay in New York?

New York workers’ comp pays up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage before your injury, with a minimum of $150 per week and a maximum of $1,125.46 per week in 2023. Read more about how much workers’ comp pays in New York.

When does workers' comp start paying in New York?

New York has a seven-day waiting period before you’re eligible to get workers’ comp benefits. Payments won’t start until after your claim is approved, and the insurance company has either 18 days after your injury date or 10 days after your employer received notice of your injury, whichever is later.

How long can I be on workers’ comp pay in New York?

You will continue getting benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) or until you can return to work. Permanent benefits are available if you never recover enough to return to work. Our breakdown of how long benefits last in each state has more information.

Can I work on New York workers' comp?

Yes, you can work on workers’ comp and there’s no strict limit on the number of hours you can work. However, you can only do light-duty or modified-duty work that stays within your treating physician’s treatment plan. Read more about working while on workers’ comp.

Is workers’ comp taxable in New York?

No, workers’ comp payments aren’t taxable, including weekly benefits, medical benefits, and settlements.

See what you qualify for

How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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