What Workers Need to Know
For over a century, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) has responded to outbreaks and chronic injuries by ensuring that claims are handled quickly and benefits are paid promptly. From diseases like tuberculosis and asbestosis, to the tragedy of 9/11, and to the opioid crisis, the Board has always risen to meet the needs of injured workers across the state. COVID-19 is no exception.
If you believe you may have contracted COVID-19 due to an exposure at work, you may be eligible to receive workers compensation benefits. Employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay benefits to workers who are made ill or injured due to their employment. Immigration status is never a factor.
Benefits provided under the Workers’ Compensation Law include:
- Free, lifetime medical treatment for your work-related illness or injury.
- Wage replacement benefits if your illness or injury prevents you from working.
- Benefits to your surviving dependents in the event of death.
- Reimbursement of funeral or memorial expenses up to $12,500 in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester counties, and up to $10,500 in the other counties of New York.
How to File a Claim
If you become ill from COVID-19 due to an exposure at your job:
- Seek medical care immediately. Advise your health care provider(s) that you have a work-related illness.
- Tell your employer, in writing, when, where and how you became ill. Do this within 30 days of injury or as soon as possible.
- File an Employee Claim (Form C-3) reporting your illness to the Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) as soon as possible. For the fastest filing, complete the web version of the Employee Claim Form (Form C-3), or you can complete and submit a paper form.
Information to include:
You may not be able to point to the exact moment or method of exposure to COVID-19, but you can demonstrate a high risk in your workplace if you work in an environment where exposure to COVID-19 is or was prevalent (e.g., hospital, transportation, grocery store, or anywhere else). Include details about where you work, how often you work, and your job duties, especially those involving public contact.
Please note, you must file a claim within two years of your illness. Even though your employer must also report your illness, it is helpful for you to report it as well.
While not all claims will be accepted, there is no harm or risk in filing a claim, even if it ends up getting denied.
COVID-19 & Workers’ Compensation FAQs
The Board’s COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation FAQ was created to help you understand your rights and how to file a claim.
Some people who contract COVID-19 experience ongoing medical issues, often referred to as long-haul COVID-19.
If you have ongoing medical issues due to work-related COVID-19, or your long-haul COVID-19 causes you to miss work, you may be eligible for free medical care and/or lost wage replacement through workers’ compensation insurance.
If you already have an established workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19, any ongoing medical care that is directly or consequently related to COVID-19 falls under that claim. For example, someone with an established COVID-19 claim may also need ongoing treatment for problems from COVID-19 related to their kidneys or lungs, or may develop consequential conditions, such as anxiety and depression. If you do not have an established claim, you need to file a claim within two years of your illness.
COVID-19 Quarantine Leave
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, New York State implemented programs that guarantee workers job protection and financial compensation in the event you or your minor dependent child are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.
Most employees will get financial compensation by using a combination of benefits, which may include employer-provided COVID-19 paid sick leave (depending on the size of the employer), Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. These benefits are not available to employees who are able to work through remote access or other means.
Paid Family Leave may also be used to care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19, which may qualify as a serious health condition.
Visit PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov/COVID19 for full details on COVID-19 quarantine leave.
Webinars and Other Resources
- See the Upcoming Webinars page for information on our free, online educational sessions.
- Workers' Compensation and COVID-19 Webinar – February 2022: Video / Slides
- WCB on the AFL-CIO Union Strong Podcast, Episode 82: COVID at Work, Know Your Rights – Watch / Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
View a brief video on COVID-19 & Workers' Compensation.
- Translated version: Español
- COVID-19 Workers' Compensation Q&A (June 2020)
- COVID & Workers' Compensation (General) Fact Sheet
- COVID-19 Long-Haul Indemnity Fact Sheet
- COVID-19 Long-Haul Medical Treatment Fact Sheet
For Questions or Assistance
You can call the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board at (877) 632-4996 if you’re having difficulties or need additional information. Please let us know if you face resistance or obstacles to getting information about the claims process or are discouraged from filing a claim. We will help you. You can also write to our Advocate for Injured Workers at AdvInjWkr@wcb.ny.gov.