Your on-the-job injury and surrounding circumstances should be carefully examined before deciding whether to retire or not. In most cases, you should not “officially” retire and start collecting pension plan benefits outright just because you know you cannot return to your previous job due to permanent injuries.
In Arizona, when you have a workplace injury and do not expect to ever return to work, you will receive sixty-six and two-thirds percent of your former salary plus payment of medical bills. For some with higher salaries, this may be enough to continue providing for the household. For others, the loss of thirty-three and one-third percent of a lower salary can produce an emergency situation leading to not enough monthly money to pay all the household bills.
If you are looking at finding ways to bring in more money to support your household, especially if you are the sole supporter of your family, your first step is to connect with an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to weigh the pros and cons of how you can get extra money and change your financial situation.
Your age and injury status are important factors in regard to whether you can retire voluntarily or not. If you are at retirement age and your medical condition has reached a maximum medical improvement (MMI) level, meaning it will not get any better than where you are now with additional treatment, then you likely could pull money from your pension retirement plan.
You could do this if you have no other choice and cannot get another job again. But you may need to notify your employer’s insurance company, which pays all your bills, so they understand you are not officially retiring but need the extra funds. Do not do this without an attorney to support you.
If old enough, you could go off your workers’ compensation monthly benefits and sign up to begin receiving your social security benefits if you have reached the first full retirement age level. This is usually around age 65 or 66, depending on the year you were born. If your injury is permanent, consider applying for social security disability insurance (SSDI) instead, which provides payments equal to your full retirement age benefits if you have earned enough work credits.
However, if you can do this, the preferred action is to continue collecting workers’ compensation benefits and wait until age 70 when you reach the age of maximum social security retirement benefits which are far higher than the full retirement age at 65 or 66. At age 70, you are required to begin receiving your monthly benefits. If your social security insurance payment is significantly higher than your monthly workers’ compensation benefit payment, it might be better to just cancel the workers’ compensation benefits.
At age 65, all people reaching this age must also sign up for Medicare with Parts A and B (hospitalizations and doctors), plus Part D, which covers prescriptions. Reaching this age for Medicare could create some problems if you are still getting your medical bills paid by workers’ compensation. The usual outcome is workers’ compensation medical payments continue but Medicare picks up any remaining bills. You must pay the monthly Medicare fees, however.
Once you reach your MMI, you might also consider a settlement with the insurance company regarding medical payments. But this step is also not always the best way to go, as you can miss out on future benefits. Only an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can advise you about this action, based on your unique set of circumstances.
Do not enter into negotiations for a settlement without having an attorney at your side, especially if the insurance company is trying very hard to get you to accept an offer. Your workers’ compensation attorney may be able to get you a much better deal. Never take for granted that the insurance company is on your side when they kindly offer you a settlement. If your injury is life-altering with no chance of getting better, then, with a good argument from your attorney, you can get a better deal.
People are moving to online outlets to take on extra jobs on the side, due to the huge rise in inflation. This also affects those on workers’ compensation and if the injured are finding they cannot pay all their bills, then working online “gigs” is a good idea to supplement funds. For example, if an injured person can build websites, write articles, design graphics, and more while sitting at a desk recuperating, then they should be allowed to do this. However, you must negotiate with the insurance company about what you need to do first before starting this type of work.
An insurance company could state that after reaching a certain amount of income, then benefits may be reduced. This is something your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, but there should be a signed document that shows the insurance company agrees to this arrangement. Aside from bringing extra money in to help with bills, an injured worker can feel productive and have a better mental attitude than just sitting around at home doing nothing. The reality for many people is that, with rising inflation, people will delay retirement plans for now.
Two of the best places to get started with doing online gigs are Fiverr and Upwork. It takes a while to begin getting work from clients, but once you get the hang of it, your life can become more positive.
Arizona Injury Law Group offers experienced and Certified workers’ compensation lawyers and legal services for injured workers. Call for your free consultation! 602-346-9009.
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