Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Retirement
Answer: In most instances, no. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers are primarily entitled to two types of benefits:
- Weekly wage loss benefits; and
- Medical benefits.
Wage-loss benefits are to provide an injured worker income during their time of disability. When an injured worker retires, employers will argue that the injured worker has voluntarily left the workforce and, as a result, is not entitled to any wage-loss benefits. If the employer would be successful, the injured worker would not be entitled to any additional wage-loss benefits. The injured worker would still be entitled to medical benefits.
The burden of proof is on the employer to establish that the injured worker has removed himself/herself from the job market. There are many facts that Pennsylvania workers’ compensation Judges consider to determine whether the injured worker has voluntarily removed himself/herself from the workforce. A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge will consider whether the injured worker is looking for other employment, whether the injured worker was forced to file for retirement in order to maintain health insurance coverage, and many other considerations. After reviewing the “totality of circumstances” the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge can either suspend the injured workers’ benefits or deny the Employer’s petition, which would mean that the injured worker would continue to receive Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation wage loss benefits.
In addition, if the injured worker retires, the injured worker may be entitled to a pension benefit. If the pension benefit is from the injured workers’ pre-injury employer, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier would be entitled to an offset or reduction of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits due to the injured worker, based on the net amount of the pension benefits. In other words, if an injured worker is entitled to $1,000.00 a month in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits and began receiving a retirement benefit from his/her pre-injury employer in the net amount of $600.00, the injured worker’s Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefit would be reduced by $600.00, leaving the injured worker with $400.00 of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation wage-loss benefits.
In addition, the injured worker may also lose the rest of his wage-loss benefits if the employer can successfully argue to the workers’ compensation judge that the injured worker has retired and voluntarily left the workforce.
It is important to have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney guide injured workers through retirement issues and its affect on Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits. Please feel free to contact our office at 717-238-1657 for a free consultation.