Moving Out of Washington with L&I Workers Comp Benefits

Can I move out of Washington State and still get my L&I benefits?

Yes, you can move out of state and still get your benefits.  Your benefits as an injured workers do not change when you move outside Washington State. The right to receive treatment, time loss, vocational rehabilitation, permanent disability and other benefits remains the same. Your responsibilities for your claim will remain the same. Washington L&I law will always apply to your claim regardless of where you live.

Do I need to notify L&I if I move?

Yes. You will want to let L&I know right away that you have moved so your claim isn’t delayed. Address changes should  be submitted in writing, via fax or mail and include your claim number and signature. We have this form for you here: Change of address.

You can also update your new address at the L&I claim and account center.

When you let L&I know you’ve moved out of state, they will transfer your claim to an out of state claims manager.

Medical Treatment – What about an out of State or out of country doctor?

You must have an attending physician to manage your treatment and provide reports to L&I regarding your medical treatment and your continued eligibility for benefits.  This is your responsibility. If you have an open L&I claim you accomplish this by getting an out of state doctor to be your attending physician. This attending physician must have a Washington State L&I account number to be able to be paid by L&I.  THIS CAN BE THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF HAVING AN OUT OF STATE OR OUT OF COUNTRY CLAIM. Most doctors and health-care providers simply don’t want to get involved. Talk to them. Ask them to help.  It’s not that hard. We have advice that can help.

There are two ways for you to get a doctor with a Washington State non-network provider account number.

  1. L&I has a list of out of state doctors who have been and may still have an L&I account number because they have handled Washington L&I cases in the past, in your new state, for other Washington injured workers. You may be able to find a doctor from this out of state doctor list. Good luck with this, it is not easy. There are very few doctors on this list.
  2. You can also find your own physician, and ask them if they will apply to obtain a Washington State L&I account number. This can be a good solution. Doctor see: L&I Medical Provider Information

Who can be a medical provider out of State or in a Foreign Country?

Any health care provider can become a Washington L&I provider . These doctors need a provider account number. See L&I Medical Provider Information

How does my new out of state doctor get paid? Introducing the L&I account number.

After you find a new doctor willing to treat you, if the new doctor already has a Washington State L&I account number then his getting paid is easy.

If the new doctor does not have a State of Washington L&I account number then they need to ask L&I to make them a Washington State non network provider.  All health care providers who treat you must have a provider account with Washington L&I in order to be paid. They can obtain a provider account number by completing a provider application and submitting it to L&I. Here is a link to the provider application. Your out of state doctor does not need to and should not join the separate medical provider network which is only for Washington State doctors.

You need to know that this is easier said than done. The actual process of your new out of state doctor getting an L&I provider account number is easy. The problem is that any paperwork is a hassle for some doctors and they may not be willing to do this for you. Ask nicely, maybe you can make this happen.

How do I tell L&I who my new doctor is?

You should notify L&I of your new doctor, so they can communicate with your doctor regarding your claim. Use the Change of Attending Physician form.

Can I still get my vocational rehabilitation benefits in another State or Country?

Yes, you are still entitled to Washington L&I vocational services if you live or move out of state. You may be required to  be available to participate in vocational services if you move.

Relocation is discouraged in the middle of assessment or plan development, or retraining. If you’re going to move; it’s best to move between, but not during, one of these phases. Your benefits could stop if you move while you are in an approved retraining plan and you aren’t available to participate.

Identification of the relevant “labor market” becomes complicated with an out of state move. You may need help with this.

Can I Leave the State Temporarily While on Workers’ Comp?

Yes, you can, but it will affect your claim if you aren’t careful. 

If you have an open workers’ compensation claim, you’re pretty much getting medical care (except during the vocational process). If you voluntarily leave the state and it interrupts your medical care, L&I can and likely will close your claim. 

Can I DIY?

Yes you can do this. Be persistent. Be nice. Doctors and their staff are more likely to help if they like you.

If you need to speak with an attorney regarding your L&I benefits, call me  Seattle Workers’ Comp attorney Christopher Sharpe.

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Chris Sharpe

Meet Chris Sharpe

Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 40 years. He has built a successful law practice by thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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