OFF WORK ON WORKERS’ COMP AND THINKING OF RETIRING? THINK AGAIN!

February 17, 2013 Posted by Steve Hanagan

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From time to time, we see the situation where an employee with many years at their job decides to retire following a serious injury but before they have concluded their workers’ compensation claim.  Normally, they reason that since they will not be able to return to their job due to their injuries, they might as well go ahead and retire so they can receive their retirement benefits.  Unfortunately, what seems like a common sense decision can be a very costly mistake.

Under the law, a injured worker that is unable to return to any type of work, or is only able to return to restricted work at lower earnings, is entitled to compensation for their loss of earning capacity.  Work comp benefits may be due to them for either permanent and total disability or their decreased earning capacity due to the injury.  Retiring, however, seriously jeopardizes and most often destroys the worker’s right to these benefits.  In short, the law may view retirement as voluntarily removing themselves from the labor force, meaning they have no loss of future earnings to be compensated for.  Using retirement benefits, which the worker has already earned based on their many years of service to their employer, as a substitute for workers’ compensation benefits, designed to compensate them for their future loss of earnings, doesn’t make much sense when they are entitled to receive both.

Even when no employer provided retirement benefits are involved, claiming benefits for Social Security Retirement or Disability can still eliminate the workers’ rights to work comp benefits for future loss of earnings.  When an injured worker is put in a position where they are unable to return to their job and they are considering taking retirement or signing up for Social Security, they need to carefully consider their options.  Their family’s future is at stake and errors can be very costly.

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Hanagan & McGovern is a Mt. Vernon, Illinois, workers’ compensation and personal injury law firm serving southern and central Illinois.  If you have questions concerning this article or have other workers compensation questions, please contact us.

About Steve Hanagan

Steve Hanagan is a principal in law firm of Hanagan & McGovern. Additional information on Steve is available by following the Main Site link at the top of this page.

3 Responses to OFF WORK ON WORKERS’ COMP AND THINKING OF RETIRING? THINK AGAIN!

  1. james roedl says:

    so what do you do when they terminate you? when they do this i will lose my insurance. and more then likely my comp benefits.

    • In Illinois, it depends on a number of factors. Compensation benefits normally are not affected by termination, so that alone is no reason for compensation benefits to be stopped. But, without knowing more about your circumstances and why they would terminate you in the first place, it is impossible to give you a clear answer to your question.

  2. Lloyd Green says:

    We have very similar issues here in the UK – as your post shows, there are many complexities and overlaps between injury law and employment law. In the UK, people tend to think that personal injury claims are straightforward and any firm can do the work, whoever advertises the most, but like any area of law, having a good and experienced lawyer makes all the difference.

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