If you have continued working for many years despite an injury, the day of your retirement could not come soon enough. But remember, just because you stop working doesn’t mean that you will stop feeling pain or restriction from your on-the-job injury. Y ou may still have medical expenses-or at least be entitled to payment for damages over time.
If you are currently receiving workers’ compensation, those payments may continue after your retirement. In fact, you can even file a claim after your retirement if you can prove that your disability is related to your job.
But to live the life you’ve probably imagined after you finish working, you will need more than payments from workers’ compensation. In the United States, retirees can receive funds from a number of sources, such as Social Security, but workers’ compensation may affect the amount you receive.
Find peace of mind now. Before your retirement, plan ahead and see how workers’ compensation will fit in with your other benefits.
Social Security Benefits
In Oregon, the state does not offset workers’ compensation for Social Security retirement benefits. What does that mean for you? If you have been receiving workers’ compensation, you probably know that it affects the amount of Social Security disability
benefits you can receive. The total amount of benefits cannot go over 80 percent of your average earnings before your injury or disability.
For example, if you made $5,000 a month before your disability, the government will reduce your family’s Social Security benefits until you receive $4,000 a month total. Y ou can receive full Social Security benefits again when you turn 65 or when workers’ compensation stops.
This restriction does not apply to Social Security retirement benefits. You can receive both payments simultaneously.
Again, what does this mean for you? If you are in your early 60s, you may want to retire early. Full retirement age is 67 years for those who were born in 1960 or later, but you can receive retirement benefits starting at the age of 62. According to Social Security Administration, your benefit may be 25 percent lower than your payment if you waited until age 67.
Speak with an attorney or find your local Social Security office (https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp). Either of these resources can help you determine whether you can benefit from early retirement.
Civil Service Annuity
If you have worked for the U.S. government, you may be looking forward to benefits from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). However, the law dictates that you cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits and civil service annuity payments at the same time. This rule may keep you from receiving:
- Disability retirement benefits from the FERS or its predecessor, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
- Spouse benefits
- Veteran’s disability benefits
- Death benefits
However, you must apply for retirement benefits, even if you are receiving workers’ comp, to protect your future rights to annuity. In the case of your death, your loved ones may no longer qualify for workers’ compensation and need survivor annuity benefits.
When you apply for retirement, list your workers’ compensation on your application. If you are eligible for civil service annuity, you can select the benefits that work best for you and your family. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) can help you make this decision.
You can also accept annuity payments later on if your workers’ comp benefits stop or if you are waiting for those compensation benefits to be approved. However, you may have to reimburse the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) if you begin receiving workers’ comp after you accept civil service annuity.
This rule does have an exception. Y ou can obtain both payments if you have scheduled benefits. The government may grant you scheduled award payment if particular internal/external organs or bodily functions were impaired as part of your injury. Contact the OPM if you are unsure of the benefits you should receive.
To learn more about workers’ comp as it relates to the CSRS or the FERS, read the official documentation
Talk to Your Employer and/or a Disability Attorney
As you can tell from the information above, there is a complicated relationship between workers’ compensation and other benefits you may receive after retirement. Don’t take the risk of missing out on important funds. Seek help before you decide how to proceed.
Talk to your employer about how the company obtains workers’ compensation insurance. Whether the employer goes through a state-run program or a private company may affect the restrictions.
Finally, contact a disability or workers’ compensation attorney-long before your retirement, if you can. He or she will understand the finer points of the law so you don’t have to question. Plus, a lawyer will consider all of your potential sources, even private pensions and savings accounts, to make sure you receive the payments you need to rest comfortably.