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L&I Permanent Total Disability Pension Benefits

If a serious job injury prevents you from working again, you might consider seeking a Washington state L&I disability pension.

What Is a Disability Pension?

L&I disability pensions are paid to a small number of seriously injured workers every month for the rest of their lives. This is different from retirement pensions awarded for a lifetime of service at a company and are separate from any kind of pension provided by an employer.

How Do I Qualify For a Disability Pension?

To qualify for a disability pension in Washington state, a worker must demonstrate that they suffer from an L&I condition that permanently prevents them from any work or gainful employment.

What Does It Take To Get a Pension?

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 independent medical examiners 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. In short, you need the following elements to win a disability 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?

They are relatively rare, with fewer than 2% 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.

Can My Spouse Receive My Pension After I Die?

If you are already married on the date when an L&I 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.

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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