One of the common questions we hear from injured workers is “What happens if I retire?” or, more than you may imagine, “What happens if I move out of this Country?” In either case, the answer is that your wage loss benefits are placed in serious jeopardy. Medical benefits are not impacted by these things; this is just a risk to wage loss (“indemnity”) benefits.
Normally, to reduce or eliminate workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, the insurance carrier must prove that the injured worker’s condition has changed, such that he or she is physically capable of some kind of work, and that this kind of work is available to the injured worker. The standard is different, however, if the insurance company can prove either that the injured worker has “retired,” or has relocated out of the Country. If they are able to prove one of these things, a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) can find that the injured worker has withdrawn from the labor market, leading to a suspension of the wage loss benefits. One of the tools we have, as attorneys who represent injured workers, is to show that work is not “available” to the injured worker. In these situations, that is not even relevant.
There are strategies to deal with these situations, provided that the injured worker obtain timely legal advice. This is yet another instance when acting without legal counsel can dramatically impact your rights. Once benefits are suspended in these situations, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for us to fix the problem. The best way to fix the problem, is to avoid it happening.