Safety and OSHA News

Does drug dealing disqualify him from receiving workers’ comp?

To continue receiving workers’ comp benefits, an injured employee said he hadn’t received any income during a particular period. Well, at least he didn’t earn any income legally …

Juan Guzman of Kent, NY, has been charged with obtaining New York state workers’ comp benefits illegally.

A representative from the New York State Insurance Fund contacted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office on the suspicion that Guzman was receiving workers’ comp benefits for which he wasn’t entitled. A sheriff’s department investigator from the Narcotics Enforcement Unit looked into the case.

Between February and July of 2012, Guzman repeatedly filed claim forms with the State Insurance Fund indicating he had no income whatsoever. He was filing for the comp benefits from a 1998 work-related injury to continue. For that period, Guzman received $6,000.

The investigator found Guzman had been convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in February 2013. Guzman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

During a court appearance, Guzman admitted receiving cash for the narcotics he sold. That meant he had an income.

Testimony in court counts as a sworn statement, and in this case what he said contradicted what he stated in his workers’ comp claim form.

Sheriff’s investigators arrested Guzman and charged him with insurance fraud and fraudulent filing of an insurance application, both felonies.

He was released after posting $500 bail.

Of course this isn’t your usual situation of earning other income while on total disability benefits. But employees out on total disability, whether it’s temporary or permanent, need to be reminded that if they pick up any extra income while receiving workers’ comp, they have to report it under the law. They may lose their wage replacement benefits, but they’ll retain medical coverage for their injury.

And if they ask, “Does it matter what kind of income it is?” this case definitely shows that all types of income need to be reported.

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