Retirement: it’s something every worker looks forward to. After years of dedicated service to your industry, the freedom to pursue travel, hobbies, and leisure is well deserved. Unfortunately, a workplace injury can happen at any time – regardless of your plans for the future. While you know that workers’ compensation will cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages while you’re employed, you might be unsure of how retiring would affect your benefits. Can you retire while on workers’ compensation? We explore this complex topic below.
HOW RETIREMENT AFFECTS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
If you are nearing retirement age at the time of your injury, you might be leaning towards hanging up your hat, so to speak, instead of returning to work. This is certainly an option, but it’s important to understand how retiring will affect your workers’ comp benefits. After all, the workers’ compensation system is designed to provide a financial safety net to employees who are unable to work because of a workplace injury – not to those who don’t want to work anymore.
When an employee decides to retire while on workers’ compensation, his or her employer is still required to pay for all medical expenses related to the injury. Those who want to protect their rights to medical coverage should follow the same steps for filing a workers’ compensation claim as an employee who intends to return to work. This includes reporting the injury within 30 days, submitting all of the required paperwork, and adhering to the physician’s prescribed treatment plan.
The situation gets tricky when it comes to disability benefits. Temporary disability benefits are paid to a worker while he or she is healing from an injury. If you are receiving temporary disability benefits and decide to voluntarily leave the workforce, these benefits will expire. However, if your injury is severe and your doctor has given you a permanent disability rating, you may have no choice but to retire. In this case, you should continue receiving disability benefits.
VOLUNTARY VS. INVOLUNTARY RETIREMENT
We strongly recommend that injured workers wait until after they have healed and learned if they have any permanent disability before deciding on retirement. If an employee is able to do the same job or modified work that accommodates his or her restrictions, the choice to retire would be voluntary and disability benefits would end. On the other hand, if the employer is unable to offer work within the employee’s restrictions and the employee is unable to find comparable work elsewhere, the employee can build a strong case that shows his or her injury led to retirement. In the case of involuntary retirement, workers’ comp benefits would continue. Before making this important decision, it’s wise to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.
ARE YOU COLLECTING WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS AND CONSIDERING RETIREMENT? CONTACT A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEY.
An injured worker who is considering retirement has a lot to think about. While medical expenses will continue to be paid regardless of voluntary or involuntary retirement, disability benefits could be sacrificed if the employee decides not to return to work. In a complex situation like this, we highly recommend talking to a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you make the right decision, file the proper forms, and assist you throughout the entire claims process.
At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, we’ll evaluate your case for free and inform you of your workers’ compensation benefits, other benefits that may be available to you, as well as any offsets that may apply. Best of all, there are no up-front fees or out-of-pocket costs for legal representation. Call us today to schedule your consultation at (619) 544-1506