Our Tennessee attorneys are asked this question often. Although the answer is complex, and every person’s situation is unique, this blog will touch on some of the issues that may come up when you suffer a workplace injury while planning for your retirement.
We can’t foresee on-the-job accidents, but we can rely on workers’ compensation to help us while we heal from our injuries until we’re able to go back to work. But what if you make the decision to retire while you’re still on workers’ comp? Do you lose your benefits? Are your retirement benefits affected?
Some workers who are injured on the job and nearing retirement may decide to simply retire instead of returning to work. This is one option you might consider, but you should also consider how retiring could affect any workers’ compensation benefits you may be owed. Remember that the Tennessee workers’ comp program is a system designed to protect employees who can’t earn a paycheck due to a workplace injury.
Additionally, if you’re on workers’ compensation and make the decision to retire, your employer is still responsible for the medical expenses related to your injury. You still must follow the same rules for the workers’ comp process in order to protect your rights, including filling out and submitting the proper paperwork and keeping to your doctor’s treatment plan.
Things get a little more complicated when it comes to your disability benefits. With workers’ comp, an employee receives temporary benefits while they’re healing from their injuries. If you’re receiving temporary disability and decide to voluntarily retire, your benefits will stop. On the other hand, if your injury is so severe that your doctor has diagnosed you permanently disabled, you may be forced to retire. In this case, you may be able to continue receiving those benefits.
To retire or not to retire
If you’ve been injured on the job and are thinking about retiring, consider speaking to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before making any decisions. Waiting until after you’ve healed, or reached maximum medical improvement, gives you the most information with which to decide. For example, if you are able to do the same job or your employer provides you with work that accommodates your restrictions, a decision to retire would be voluntary and your benefits would end.
Conversely, if your employer is unable to offer you similar work or work that accommodates your disability, you may be forced into retirement and your benefits could continue. This is why it’s important to ensure you understand the extent of your injuries or condition before making any decisions about your future.
When you’re injured on the job, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law will stand up for your rights. We help clients with filing claims, hearings and appeals, and denial of benefits. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties.