Pension – a Great Benefit if You Will Never Work Again
Chris Sharpe is an L&I Washington State Disability Pension Lawyer practicing pension law in Washington State for over 30 years. He writes extensively on L&I claims, permanent partial disability payments, and L&I pensions. The Sharpe Law Firm is here to make sure you know your rights before you make a final L&I claim decision, as your choice is permanent. We are available to talk with you anytime for a free consultation about your pension or permanent partial disability claim.
If you cannot work again, because of a serious job injury, learn the L&I pension rules. A pension is a lifetime money payment every month for life. The dollar amount is roughly equal to your time loss payment, for the rest of your life. A pension is the best settlement benefit L&I has to offer.
This pension comes from L&I and not your employer. It is an Injury Pension. This is a pension you get because you have an L&I claim and a career ending job injury. Pensions are a little-known and little-talked about benefit. Few workers have heard of a pension in the L&I context. If you have a chance to get a pension you owe it to yourself to ask questions and see if you qualify. It could be the smartest thing you have ever done.
The pension rules are straightforward and easy to understand. However these pensions are not easy to get. Less than two percent of all L&I claims end up in pension.
The road to a pension is a long and winding journey. Along the way you will meet claims managers, vocational counselors, employers, and independent medical exam doctors who don’t want you to get a pension. They will try to derail your pension journey. Keep in mind that L&I has ruined many a pension journey before you. This could be your first trip down the pension road. You will want to look ahead and see where you are going. Learn the pension rules and be prepared for the problems you will encounter.
There is no effective deadline for a pension review. Pension adjudicators are busy and typically have a backlog. Sometimes it seems like forever. Be patient. The important thing is that your L&I file has good and up to date medical and vocational information.
Yes, you want it if you can get it. The only person who does not want a pension is someone who will return to work, or a single person who will die soon.
When comparing L&I Pension vs L&I PPD, look at your employability.
A pension is roughly the same as time loss for the rest of your life. To get a working estimate of the lifetime pension value, multiply your time loss check by 26, then multiply that by how many more years you have to live. To be more precise, add in an annual cost of living adjustment. That calculation equals a rough approximation of the value of a pension for you. If you will be penalized with a Social Security Offset, be sure to factor that into your analysis. Get help figuring this out if you need it.
Formula for how much a pension will pay:
(Time Loss Check Amount x 26) x Years Left To Live + Cost of Living Adjustment
The pension calculator is the mathematical formula which yields the amount of your monthly pension payment.
A Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award generally includes money only for physical and mental impairment.
A pension settlement is worth much more because instead of payment for medical impairment it looks at loss of income for the rest of your life. This can be a lot of money over time.
If you are not going to work again because of your job injury, talk to attorney Sharpe. See if you qualify for a pension.
Pension payment amounts are scheduled to increase each year, effective July 1. The Cost of Living Allowance is determined by the change in the states average wage from the previous calendar year. This often amounts to a nice yearly increase.
Yes it can be done. The pension rules are the same for you with or without a lawyer. You need to fit your facts inside the pension rules. Easier said than done; but it can be done. The important part is that you are prepared and ready at each step. You can’t DIY on a trial and error basis. One critical mistake will ruin your chance for a pension. Get it right and you will be happy.
Good Pension lawyers cost money. A good lawyer is often the difference between winning and losing a pension. The good news is that an L&I lawyer who believes in your case will charge contingent legal fees. Contingent legal fees mean that your disability pension lawyer will not charge an attorney fee unless he/she wins money for you.
Here is a good way to decide if you should hire an L&I attorney. A lawyer is best used as a guide who gets you there, and who helps from start to finish. Could your L&I claim benefit from a guide? You don’t need a guide for a walk in the park . You need a guide to cross the Okepanoke Swamp. Which does your claim look like, a park or a swamp?
I am Chris Sharpe. I wrote this page and this website. I have counseled thousands of injured workers about their L&I claims. I have helped many of them get their lifetime pension.
We charge 15% of ongoing pension payments if we get a pension for you. Our firm is glad to offer you a free strategy session. We’ll talk to you about your case and your chances so that your decision about trying to get a pension and a lawyer is easier.
What happens to your pension when you die? It depends. Whether or not there will be Spousal Washington State Labor and Industries pension benefits after death depend on your facts and the option choice you make.
If you are single with children on the date your pension is granted, you have the option to pass your pension on to your children. Most children can only receive this pension until they are 18, or 23 if in school full time. Totally disabled children can continue to receive a pension so long as they remain in a disabled status.
These pensions are simply the pre-planned continuance of a regular L&I pension after the workers death. Payments are to a spouse or to a child. This is planning for your family’s future, get it right. At pension award time, the worker is given the three pension options.
The general rule is no, you cannot get both PPD and a pension for the same claim. However, if you are awarded a PPD settlement you can appeal that decision. How To Disagree With An L&I Decision. If you later win a pension, you can pay the settlement back and keep the much more valuable pension. There are some exceptions to the general rule per RCW.51.32.060(4).
L&I pensions are for injured workers who can never work again. L&I pensioners are permanently totally disabled. Successfully completing vocational training is evidence you can work, so maybe no pension. Sincerely attempting job training and failing still allows for and actually encourages the award of a pension.
You can try work to see if you can handle it if you want. You must coordinate this with your doctor and your claims manager. If you do return to work in the same or greater capacity as you were when injured, your pension status will change. As a first step L&I will suspend pension benefits while you try to work. If you are successful at your job attempt then you will likely forfeit your pension. At that time you may wish to apply for a PPD settlement.
You are not allowed to work full time and collect pension benefits. That is dishonest. Keep in mind that while you are on a pension, L&I is looking at you. They look at your reported social security earnings history, your social media presence, and other community information. If they see something that looks like work activity then they will follow up, sometimes with a private investigator. They also require you to certify each year your earnings and work activity. Be honest with L&I. You cannot collect pension benefits and work. If you do work and don’t tell L&I and they figure out you are working then they may charge you with fraud.
The easy answer is “no,” and most L&I attorneys will tell you exactly that. However the law in this area is untested. You can do a little part time work and still keep your pension. How much and what work you can do, and how much you can earn is fact dependent on your case. Talk to L&I or to an L&I lawyer if you need guidance in this area. If you do part time work while on a pension, the rule is that you are required to report it to L&I.
A pension is all or nothing; that is to say there is no reduced pension similar to social security where you can work a little and take a reduced payment. Be honest with L&I about the work you do while on a pension. You can bet they are looking at you.
Voluntary retirement is an artificial claim status made up by L&I, to keep from paying pension benefits. Don’t let them do this to you. If you get an order stating you have voluntarily retired. Appeal it. See Voluntary Retirement.
A widows pension is a survivors pension for the widow or widower of the worker who dies because of the job injury. The widows pension qualifications are:
The money benefit for the surviving spouse is calculated similar to the time loss calculation. If the death occurs with an open and paying claim, that is the pension rate used with no option 2 or 3 reduction. If the death occurs at the time of injury, then the pension rate is not yet set. There are many factors that go into the rate.
Get legal advice before the rate is set; the rate once set is the rate which will last a lifetime. It makes a difference.
A survivors pension for a death which is related to the job injury will last for a lifetime unless the survivor remarries.
This is not a Widow’s pension. This is different. A pension for dependent family members is a survivors pension.
A dependent family member can be parents, grandparents, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, nephews, and nieces.
A statutory pension is a different kind of pension. Many of the above rules don’t apply. To qualify for a statutory pension, the injured worker needs to lose two limbs or both eyes. God forbid this happened to you. If you do qualify for a statutory pension, you may be able to return to work, even full time, and still receive the statutory pension benefit.
This is the amount of money L&I sets aside as an estimate of what your pension will cost them. It’s just an actuarial guess and is not important to you or your pension. Forget about it.
Most pensioners lose their L&I medical care when the pension is granted. A few lucky but seriously injured pensioners are able to get a treatment order for accepted job related conditions. The supervisor has discretionary authority to deem treatment necessary to protect such workers’ life or provide for the administration of medical and therapeutic measures. RCW 51.36.010(4) and the L&I Policy Manual Chapter 15. A good L&I lawyer can help with this.
Pensioners who do not have a treatment order when the pension is granted may apply for one later. There is no statute of limitations for this application.
Yes, but don’t do it. You only get pennies on the dollar. It is never worth it. NEVER.
A Washington State L&I disability pension is not taxable. Federal Tax Regulations 1-104-1(b) states that workers compensation benefits for personal injuries or sickness incurred in the course of employment are excluded from gross income. This means they are not taxable.
If you will never work again because of your job injury an L&I pension is for you.
Talk to us at the Sharpe Law Firm about your pension chances. It may be the smartest thing you ever do. Attorney Chris Sharpe and his staff are ready to advise and to help. Contact Us for a free strategy session.