New Washington Administrative Code (WAC) rules that set guidelines for independent medical examinations (IME) take effect on April 23, 2022.…
What You Need to Know About Industrial Insurance Act Pensions:
Washington State’s Injured and sick workers often have questions about Industrial Insurance Act pension eligibility. The older they are, and the more disabled they are, the more likely they are to be eligible for this valuable monthly benefit.
Below are some common questions and answers provided by the experienced L&I Attorneys of Washington Law Center concerning industrial injury pensions. Please call us for more information about your potential eligibility, and see also our industrial pension results for examples of why it is worth your time to make this inquiry.
Who is Eligible For An L&I Pension:
Any worker who is found to be totally and permanently disabled, meaning that they cannot sustain competitive employment on a reasonable basis at their pre-injury pattern of employment, may be eligible for an Industrial Insurance Act pension, as may their surviving spouse.
If an Aging Worker Retires, Can they Also Get an Industrial insurance Act Pension?
Yes. The mere fact of retirement is no legal bar to obtaining an Industrial Insurance Act pension in addition to normal pension benefits to which the worker may simultaneously be entitled. However, the rules are very technical, and not everyone who retires will be eligible.
Can Unemployed or Displaced Workers Receive an L&I Pension?
Workers who are displaced due to Covid-19 or other involuntary job losses may still be eligible for an Industrial Insurance Act Pension. The relevant inquiry is not why they became displaced but whether they retain the physical and mental capacity for regular and continuous employment in their current labor market.
If An Employer Fires A Worker, Is the Worker Still Eligible For An Injury Pension?
It depends on whether the injured worker was truly fired for good cause, and if so, whether the worker has reattached to the labor market by attempting alternate work that is available. This is a very technical inquiry that can likely only be answered by an experienced L&I attorney based upon the particular facts of each case.
If a Worker Voluntarily Retires, Are They Still Eligible for an Industrial Insurance Act Pension?
If an individual voluntarily retires from the labor market, they are not entitled to an Industrial Insurance Act pension. However, many people retire in part due to industrial injuries or occupational diseases. That choice is not considered entirely voluntary, so those people may still be eligible.
What is Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act Pension Benefit Payment?
The monthly pension benefit amount is typically the same amount as the injured worker receives in time loss, if single, or approximately 25% less if the injured worker is married and elects to ensure that there is a remainder benefit that will be paid monthly to the surviving spouse if the injured worker dies first.
What is a Labor & Industries Survivor’s Pension?
If an injured worker dies due to an industrial injury or occupational disease, or while permanently disabled at least in part from an industrially-related condition, the surviving spouse is entitled to a widow’s or widower’s pension under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act. Monthly benefits will vary.
Does Receipt of L&I Pension Benefits Reduce Social Security Eligibility?
In some cases there is an “offset” between workers compensation benefits (including pension benefits) and social security disability or retirement benefits. The offset amount, if it applies, is determined based on the injured worker’s lifetime earnings and a formula prescribed under federal law.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Spencer Parr is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center focused primarily in the areas of Labor & Industries claims and injury pension benefits. Before co-founding Washington Law Center, Spencer served in the U.S. Army. He has litigated major issues in the law, represented clients from coast to coast, and dedicated his professional life to assisting the injured and disabled. Click here to learn more about Spencer. View More Labor & Industries and Work Injury Resources.