Every state’s laws regarding workers’ compensation differ. What flies in one state may not fly in California. Then again, what gets restricted in another state may be completely acceptable in California. Knowing what is and isn’t allowed in terms of amounts and durations of workers’ compensation benefits can be complex and require the help of experienced legal counsel.
A case in a state on the other side of the country serves as an example of what we mean. It involves a woman in her 70s who was awarded workers’ compensation benefits and then went to court when they were cut off after five years.
According to the details of the case, the woman, then 72, was injured on the job in 2004. The nature of her injuries and how they were suffered isn’t known, but in submitting her claim for workers’ compensation it was determined that she was entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
The woman began receiving these benefits in 2006 when she was 74. They continued until 2011 when the woman was informed by her former employer that she was no longer entitled to the benefits under Florida state law. A judge affirmed the employer’s determination stating that due to the injury occurring after the woman turned 70; she was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after five years.
The woman appealed on the basis of a claim of age discrimination, but an appeals court affirmed the lower court saying that the state had met its burden and that limits under the law based on age are valid if they meet reasonable government objectives. As a result, the woman was ruled to have no further right to workers’ compensation benefits.
As noted at the outset, every state’s laws on workers’ compensation differ. It would be a mistake to assume that what happened in this case is applicable in California. Rather, it is something that deserves to be explored if you are in a similar situation.
What this case does reflect is that employers and states are always feeling the pressure to scale back workers’ compensation claims and benefit payouts. With the financial incentive involved in terminating benefits, older workers should be aware of this decision for the implications it might have on the California workers’ compensation benefits system.
Source: Business Insurance, “Five-year limit on workers comp benefits to older workers upheld by Fla. court,” Roberto Ceniceros, June 18, 2012