Retirement is something that almost everyone looks forward to. An opportunity to take up hobbies, travel, and spend more time with friends and family members after working so many years. Unfortunately, a serous on-the-job injury may interfere with your retirement plans.
Usually workers compensation benefits are available to compensate employees when they are unable to work after an on-the-job injury. The hope is that you – the injured employee – will be able to return to your pre-injury work after receiving a period of income replacement benefits and medical care. But the reality is that you may never be able to return to your pre-injury job.
If you are close to retirement age at the time of your work-related injury, you may decide to retire. This is an option. But it’s one that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in workers comp benefits.
How Do I Get Workers' Comp Benefits?
When you’re on-the-job, you have the right to be protected by your employer from work-related injury or illness. In the state of Virginia, specific workers' compensation laws give you options when you sustain an on-the-job injury so you can be financially covered for any damages to your person or income.
If you were injured on the job or contracted an illness due to an unhealthy work environment, our Virginia workers’ compensation attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman PC can help you file your lawsuit. There are several laws that can impact the outcome of your case, so it’s extremely important to have a workers' comp lawyer on your side to assist you through the entire process.
Get help with your workers’ compensation lawsuit. Contact us today by calling (855) 880-8163
Will I Lose My Workers' Comp Benefits If I Retire?
Whether or not retirement affects your workers comp benefits depends on if you are voluntarily retiring or being forced into retirement by your employer.
- You have voluntarily retired when you notify your employer that you are retiring on a specific date.
- Forced retirement, also known as involuntarily retirement, happens when your employer terminates your position because of health problems or disability.
Voluntary retirement can create problems in workers compensation cases. Forced retirement will not, so long as your employer initiated it.
Can I Voluntarily Retire & Still Keep My Workers' Comp Benefits?
Whether or not voluntarily retirement has a negative effect on your worker’a comp case depends on your specific medical restrictions.
When an injured worker is diagnosed as totally disabled from all work by his or her treating physician, then the worker can receive temporary total disability benefits even if he or she voluntarily retired or is terminated for cause (insubordination, tardiness, and rudeness).
Wage Loss & Income Replacement
However, workers comp wage loss benefits are not available if you voluntarily retire while only partially disabled.This is because a retiree who is not totally disabled has the option of re-entering the workforce at some time.
If you are receiving income replacement benefits through workers comp and are thinking of voluntarily retiring, make sure your doctor has totally disabled you from all work. Otherwise your pre-injury employer and its workers compensation insurance carrier can file to stop your wage loss benefits. And they will likely win.
Though retiring may mean you give up your right to wage loss benefits under the Workers Compensation Act, it does not mean you give up your right to lifetime medical benefits for your work-related injuries.
Even if you retire, the workers compensation insurance carrier is required to pay all medical bills related to your work injury, including mileage for driving to and from doctor’s appointments.
But remember – the insurance carrier is only responsible for this medical care if you:
- Report your work injury to the employer within 30 days of the accident;
- File a claim for benefits within the applicable statute of limitations; and,
- Pick a doctor from the panel of physicians offered by your employer or its workers comp insurance carrier.
If you are considering retirement after a workplace injury, it’s recommended that you wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement and undergone a functional capacity evaluation (FCE).
That way you will know what your permanent medical restrictions and your attorney can work with your authorized treating physician to determine what future medical care you may need. At this point your attorney can also determine whether you will be able to receive TTD benefits if you retire voluntarily.
Try to Settle Your Workers' Comp Case Before Retiring
This is also a good time to try to settle your workers compensation case. If you settle your case in full, then you won’t have to worry about the impact retirement will have on your worker’s comp benefits.
You can then combine your settlement funds and retirement benefits to maintain your quality of life. And you won’t have to worry about the workers comp insurance carrier looking over your shoulder.
Have Questions? Kalfus & Nachman PC is Here to Answer Them!
So, as an injured worker considering retirement, you have a lot to think about. The employer and its workers comp carrier will continue to pay all reasonable, necessary, and related medical expenses if you retire. But you may give up the right to wage loss benefits if you retire.
At Kalfus & Nachman PC, our clients come first. We work hard on each and every case for the benefit of our client and his or her family. We have extensive knowledge about Virginia laws regarding injuries at work and workers’ compensation. No case is too difficult for our team. We work efficiently to achieve positive outcomes. Save yourself time by hiring someone who will work on your side in an aggressive manner. You deserve the best, and we are here to help you get your benefits.
Contact us today to schedule your first consultation. At this appointment, we will discuss your specific case and the hurdles we must overcome to get you your benefits. We will navigate the process for you, making it easy to understand. Our firm serves all of Virginia with offices in Norfolk, New Port News, and Roanoke.