Older adults have every reason to wonder if age can affect your workers’ comp case. The answer is yes, it certainly can, although why and how it impacts claims may hold some surprises.
For example, you may want to seek a settlement that reflects your decision to retire instead of return to the workforce. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help determine how retirement affects workers’ compensation claims and what to expect during your case.
Employee Age and Workers’ Compensation
An employee’s age may affect the type of compensation settlement they are offered. If you are injured on the job and over the age of 55, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier may offer you a settlement geared toward retirement rather than recovery and a return to work.
Although older adults may be more cautious and less likely than teenagers and young adults to experience catastrophic injuries while on the job, their recovery time tends to be longer. The longer the recovery, the more money it costs the insurance company in workers’ compensation.
Your Workers’ Compensation Claim May Be Affected by Retirement
Workers’ comp is supposed to pay for medical costs related to your work injury and a percentage of your lost wages. If you feel you’d prefer to retire while recovering rather than recover and return to work, you can do that, but you may lose some benefits, depending on your injury and prognosis.
In California, temporary disability benefits cover a portion of your lost wages until you can return to the level of work you were doing before the injury. If you intend to retire instead of returning to work no matter how fully you recover from the injury, you will lose the temporary disability benefits but retain the medical benefits.
If your healthcare provider states that you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI) and that you are rated with a permanent disability, your condition may require you to retire, whether you want to or not. In this case, you may still be able to receive disability benefits during your retirement. Workers’ compensation law as mandated by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) can seemingly create more questions than answers. Working with an attorney experienced in workers’ comp law and age-related issues will help you find the answers that work to your benefit.
Workers’ Comp Challenges for Older Adults
As humans age, our bodies develop knee and back problems, vision and hearing challenges, and other complaints that, at some point, pass from new experiences to “pre-existing conditions.” If an older adult suffers, for example, a repetitive injury at work that coincidentally makes a pre-existing condition worse, or if the pre-existing condition slows recovery from the repetitive injury, it could be a fight to get the insurance company to cover all of the medical costs. The insurance company may claim that it’s the pre-existing condition causing the problems and not a medical cost that is covered by workers’ comp.
When the injured worker is close to retirement age, the insurance company may push a smaller compensation settlement while claiming that social security disability insurance (SSDI) will more than cover any outstanding needs. But the truth is, your SSDI benefits may be reduced if you are receiving workers’ comp.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits are the Same for All Ages
An employee injured on the job in California is protected by workers’ compensation. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 75 years old, you have the right to workers’ comp benefits. Those benefits include:
- Medical expenses related to your injury. You must inform your employer of your injury within 30 days, or you may be denied benefits.
- A percentage of the wages you lose when not working during your recovery or a percentage of what you lose if you have to work at a lower-paying position.
- Vocational rehab if you are unable to return to your job and new skills are required for a different position.
- Death benefits if you lost a loved one to a work-related injury or illness.
KJT Law Group Fights for the Workers’ Compensation Rights of Older Adults
If you were injured or became ill from exposure to a toxic substance while at work, our workers’ compensation attorneys will use their years of experience in successfully recovering workers’ comp settlements to help you protect your rights and secure the benefits you are due.
Call us at (818) 507-8525 to schedule your free no-risk case consultation. We answer your questions and clarify the legal options that will give you the best possible outcome for your case.