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Washington State Labor & Industries Permanent Total Disability Pension Benefits

If you sustain a serious or life-changing injury, and you’re no longer able to work, serious job injury prevents you from working again, you could be entitled to a Washington State L&I disability pension.

What Is a Disability Pension?

A disability pension is a special category of pension only awarded to the most severely injured workers. If you’re eligible for a disability pension, you will receive a non-taxable payment every month for the rest of your life.
L&I pensions in Seattle and Washington are different from retirement pensions, which you receive for a lifetime of service at a company. Since they’re separate from any kind of pension provided by an employer, you can be eligible for both a retirement pension and disability pension.

How Do I Qualify For A Washington State Disability Pension?

You must meet certain criteria to claim a pension from Washington State Labor and Industries.

First, you must be certified as completely or permanently disabled before your L&I claim closes. You must then be able to show that you can no longer find gainful employment due to your disability, or you’re disabled in one or more of the following ways:

  • vision loss
  • no use of one or both legs, both arms, or an arm and a leg (including limb loss)
  • The right strategy
  • Commitment to the process

What Does It Take To Get A Washington State Disability Pension?

It’s not easy to win an L&I pension in Seattle or Washington. You must be committed to the process. As 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 consultations with claims managers, employers, vocational counselors, and independent medical examiners who do not always have your best 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.
In short, you need the following elements to win a disability pension from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:

  • 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

Fewer than 2% of claims result in a pension; however, it’s worth the effort to secure one of the best benefits of L&I claims.

Can My Spouse Receive My Pension After I Die?

If you are already married on the date when an L&I pension in Washington or Seattle is approved, you can 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 spouses are deceased.

Can My Child Receive My Pension After I Die?

A single person who has children on the date an L&I 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 full-time students).

Can I Simultaneously Receive a Permanent Partial Disability 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 Disability Pension?

No. L&I’s lifetime disability 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 Disability 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 permanent partial disability payment.

Getting an L&I total disability pension isn’t impossible, but it is full of twists and turns and can be overwhelming. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney to understand your options and what steps you need to take. With over 15 years of experience in workers’ compensation, employment law, and third party injury claims, the attorneys at Emery Reddy will provide a free consultation on your case.

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