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Temporary Total Disability Can Continue After Retirement

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Temporary Total Disability Can Continue After RetirementIllinois workers can qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits when they suffer work-related injuries that temporarily prevent them from returning to work. The employee receives two-thirds of his or her gross weekly pay, and the employer may terminate the payments when:

  • The employee is able to resume work;
  • The employer provides reasonable accommodations for the employee’s restrictions;
  • The employee has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI); or
  • The employee chooses to not return to work.

Retirement is often considered to be voluntarily leaving work, which would end TTD pay. However, a recent Illinois workers’ compensation case shows that retirement can be involuntary.

The Case

A 61-year-old firefighter for the city of Chicago Heights tore the meniscus in his left knee while responding to a call in April 2012. The man underwent surgery to repair his knee, and the city granted TTD benefits for during his recovery. During examinations, doctors determined that the man’s knee had a degenerative condition that would require future treatment and eventually knee replacement. Doctors cleared the man to return to work in November 2012, with permanent restrictions on the type of physical activities he could perform. The city refused to accommodate those restrictions, and the man decided to retire. During retirement, his knee continued to worsen, leading to him getting a knee replacement in December 2014. The city did not approve of or pay for the man’s treatment after his retirement. In 2015, the man requested an extension of his TTD pay going back to his retirement date. The arbitrator granted the benefits, and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed the decision, capping the benefits at a little more than 127 weeks. Upon appeal, both an Illinois Circuit Court and Illinois Appellate Court upheld the decision.

Reasoning

The case came down to three points of contention:

  • Was the man’s degenerative condition related to work?;
  • When did the man reach MMI?; and
  • Did the man forfeit his right to TTD when he retired?

For the first point, doctors speculate that the degenerative condition originated when the man injured the same knee as a teenager. However, doctors identify the workplace injury as the point when his degenerative condition suddenly worsened. Before the injury, the man was physically active and noticed no pain in his knee.

For the second point, the city claims that the man had reached MMI when doctors cleared him to return to work in November 2012. However, that claim goes against evidence that the man’s physical condition worsened in the years following his retirement. Because his degenerative condition is related to his work injury, he was still recovering from the injury that qualified him for TTD.

For the third point, the arbitrator and subsequent courts determined that the man was forced to retire because the city would not accommodate him. The man stated he had wished to continue working for several more years and was willing to work within his physical limitations.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

When a work injury incapacitates you, you need benefits to cover your medical expenses and missed wages. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/R23_Orders/WorkersComp/2017/1162246WC_R23.pdf

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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