Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation if I Retire?
Eligibility to collect workers’ compensation benefits is based upon the inability to earn wages equal to your average weekly wage at the time of your injury. In other words, if your earning loss is not due to the injury but due to other reasons such as being not interested in returning to work, like when retiring, you are no longer eligible to receive benefits. Of course, the question remains, what exactly constitutes voluntary retirement under the workers’ compensation law?
What Constitutes Voluntary Retirement Under Workers’ Comp Law?
The key consideration for the workers’ compensation judge to consider is the intentions of the injured worker. Essentially, if able, would he or she continue working? The workers’ compensation judge will consider whether the injured worker has accepted a retirement pension or social security, whether the injured worker has refused suitable light-duty employment or whether the injured worker has admitted that he or she is retired and not looking for modified work.
It is important to note that there is a difference between retiring because you are no longer able to work in any capacity anymore (which allows compensation to continue) and voluntarily retiring. If an injured worker can show that he or she was forced into retirement because of a work-related injury, their benefits may continue.
Even where an injured worker retires, if a change in circumstances requires him or her to return to work, then they may again be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
For example, if you retire from your position, thereby ending your benefits, but after five years you realize that you need more money to live on and return to work, then you may be entitled to benefits again. An injured worker should not discuss retirement or pension issues with co-workers, medical providers, the employer, rehab nurse, or the adjuster. An injured worker thinking about collecting a pension or 401(k) (which may offset or reduce the weekly workers’ comp check) or applying for Social Security should consult a respected workers’ comp attorney before applying so that the decision will not negatively impact the worker’s compensation benefits and so that the benefits can be coordinated for the worker’s maximum benefit.
Talk to a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been injured in a work-related incident and has questions about possible workers’ compensation benefits, contact the Calhoon and Kaminsky P.C., at (717) 695-4722. Let us help you get the benefits you deserve.