Voluntary retirement is a characterization of the injured worker’s status at the time of their application for benefits. This artificial status is used by the Department of Labor and Industries and Self Insured employers to deny time loss and pension benefits to workers who in their opinion are not sufficiently attached to the workforce.
Said another way, a voluntary retirement order is L&I’s way to stick it to the injured worker and steal workers benefits. Do not let L&I do this to you. Consult a lawyer. Get legal advice. Protect your rights to benefits.
The precise definition of voluntary retirement is at WAC 296-14-100:
- What is voluntarily retirement? The worker is considered voluntarily retired by L&I if both of the following conditions are met:
(a) The worker is not receiving income, salary or wages from any gainful employment; and
(b) The worker has provided no evidence to show a bonafide attempt to return to work after retirement.
Time loss compensation is not paid to workers who voluntarily retired from the work force. L&I says that payment of union dues or medical or life insurance premiums does not constitute attachment to the work force.
- When is a worker determined not to be voluntarily retired? A worker is not voluntarily retired when the industrial injury or occupational disease is a proximate cause for the retirement.
- DLI policy 5.91 applies to time loss and presumably pension requests. When a workers attachment to the work force is questioned, the adjudicator determines that the worker voluntarily retires from the workforce when the worker meets all 4 of the following criteria:
- The worker is not receiving income, salary or wages from employment; and
- The worker has not provided evidence of a bonafide attempt to return to gainful employment after retirement, even when requested by the insurer to do so; and
- An injury or disease related to the industrial condition was not a proximate (major) cause of the worker’s decision to retire from the workforce: and
- At the time of application for benefits the worker was not attached to the workforce.
- An L&I order declaring “voluntary retirement’ means no time loss RCW 51.32.090 (8), and no pension benefits RCW 51.32.060 (6). However, L&I saying that a worker voluntarily retires doesn’t make it so. A worker MUST challenge this determination in a timely manner with a protest or appeal if they are to receive consideration of the time loss and pension benefits they deserve. Failure to properly protest or appeal will result in the determination of voluntary retirement becoming final and binding.