LIFETIME PENSIONS FOR SERIOUS INJURIES

If a serious job injury prevents you from working again, you might consider seeking a pension. Pensions are paid to recipients every month for the rest of their lives. This is different from retirement pensions awarded for a lifetime of service at a company. In fact, it doesn’t matter if your employer has a pension plan. Washington State L&I pensions are specifically linked to job injuries.

Few people know about pensions offered by L&I. They are relatively rare, with fewer than two percent of claims resulting in a pension. They are also hard to get, unless you have an experienced legal team that knows the right strategy. But a pension’s lifetime benefits make this worth the effort. It is the best benefit L&I offers.

To qualify for a pension, workers’ must demonstrate that they suffer from an L&I condition permanently preventing them from any work or gainful employment.

But that’s only the beginning.

To win a pension, an injured worker must be committed to the process. Because these lifetime benefits are so valuable, the system is set up to derail your claim at every step along the way. The process involves complicated bureaucratic hurdles and red tape, along with claims managers, employers, vocational counselors, and IME physicians who do not have your interests in mind. These parties have blocked many workers’ before you and will try to stop you from securing a pension. An experienced legal team with a proven track-record of avoiding those traps is your best bet for successfully navigating the system.

What does it take to get a pension?

  • The right attorney. It is extremely rare that any worker gets a pension without legal help.
  • A good doctor. Without a medical professional on your side, a pension is unlikely.
  • The right strategy.
  • Commitment to the process.

Why are L&I pensions so valuable?

One reason that pensions are worth so much is that permanent partial disability (PPD) settlements  usually involve physical or mental impairment alone, while a pension factors in loss of income for the rest of a one’s life.

Can my spouse or child receive my pension after I die?

If you are already married on the date when a pension is approved, you will have the option to pass it on to that same spouse after your death. Spouses have more than one pension option, all of which are set at reduced rates. These payments will continue until both partners in the marriage are deceased.

A single person who has children on the date a pension is awarded has the option to pass pension payments on to them. In most cases, children only receive the parent’s pension until the age of 18 (or 23 if they are fulltime students).

Can I simultaneously receive a PPD settlement and a pension?

No. However, if you have already been granted a settlement and then appeal the decision in pursuit of a pension, you can pay the settlement back and keep the pension, which is worth significantly more.

Can I complete Job Training while on an L&I pension?

L&I pensions only go to injured workers’ permanently incapable of returning to work. If you succeed in completing job training, this counts as evidence that you can work, thus disqualifying you from a pension. However, if you fail in your attempt to complete job training, you are still eligible for the pension award.

Can I return to work after receiving an L&I pension?

Your pension status will change if you go back to work. L&I will first suspend pension benefits while you attempt to re-enter your job. If you are successful in resuming work, you will likely forfeit your pension. At that time, however, you may be able to pursue a PPD payment.

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Emery Reddy