We’d like to save you from losing out on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The law in Illinois entitles injured employees to certain benefits. Any medical treatment that is reasonable and related to your work injury should be paid for in full by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The insurance company also should reimburse you for 2/3 of your average weekly wages if you are unable to work because of your injury, including time off to recover from surgery. You will need a doctor to vouch for all of this, but in general, these benefits are available under the law if you suffer a job-related injury in Illinois.

Although these benefits are clearly written into law, not all cases are simple. One reason for this is that your employer’s insurance company (which is the one paying out benefits) is not going to take your word for anything. In fact, it’s is their job to deny claims when they can and argue that the facts in your situation do not entitle you to benefits.

Another situation is voluntary retirement. Sometimes the injury itself is the reason the employee wants to retire. Other times it’s just a coincidence in timing. Voluntary retirement is something an injured employee should only do after careful consideration and with solid legal advice. Getting a claim approved and receiving benefits is half the battle after an injury. You also need to make sure you keep your benefits. If you don’t it could cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you retire with an open workers’ compensation claim, you risk losing your benefits, specifically checks you are getting for time off work (known as temporary total disability or TTD). TTD benefits are meant to compensate you until you can get back to work. They are for injured employees who can’t work, or for those who can do light duty but their employer doesn’t have any light-duty work available. If you choose retire, you are arguably taking yourself out of the workforce. In other words, your retirement becomes the reason you are not working, not your injury. And if your injury isn’t the reason you are out of work, then the insurance company will jump at the chance to take your TTD away.

There was a case recently where an employee injured his shoulder. He needed surgery and was receiving TTD during his recovery. There was light-duty work available for him. Instead, however, the injured worker decided to take advantage of an offer for early retirement. He only received TTD from the time he was injured until the time he retired, even though his injury continued and he ended up needing more surgery (and recovery time) less than a year later.

There are some situations in which retirement will not cut off your benefits. For example, if you can’t work at all, not even light duty, and you are retired, you can make the argument that your injury is the reason you are out of the workforce. Just because you retire from one job doesn’t mean you don’t want to work at all.

A major factor is your ability to work and whether your doctor has authorized you to be completely off work. Because these cases hinge on the details, it’s imperative to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney if you are considering retirement. It would be reckless to retire without getting advice on how it might affect your benefits. You can reach out to us anytime with questions about your benefits, including how retirement might affect things. It’s free and confidential to talk to one of our experienced Illinois work injury attorneys.