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Is It Okay to Quit My Job if I Am Receiving Temporary Total Benefits?

Uh, no, not really. This blog post will tell you why. (So don’t do anything until you read it! Or better yet, call us at Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill CO, L.P.A.!)

Let’s meet our friend Floyd. He began getting temporary total compensation after he was injured at work in 2000. Floyd later applied for Social Security retirement and he continued to receive temporary total for five years after he started getting Social Security. During the year and a half after Floyd retired from his former position, he never looked for another job. Basically, he had retired from the labor market.

Then in 2010, Floyd again applied for temporary total benefits. This time the Industrial Commission denied these benefits. It was determined that Floyd had abandoned the job market and was, therefore, ineligible for temporary total compensation.

Here’s another way of saying that in the court’s language: An injured worker “who voluntarily retires for reasons unrelated to the industrial injury may no longer be eligible for temporary total disability compensation, to which he otherwise might be entitled if, by retiring, he has voluntarily removed himself permanently from the workforce.”

If you’re an injured worker, you don’t have to obtain new employment to remain eligible for temporary total, but you also must not exclude the possibility of employment by abandoning the job market. Again, according to the court: “The critical issue for post-retirement eligibility for temporary total disability compensation is whether the injured worker permanently abandons the entire job market after retirement.”

An injured worker’s eligibility for temporary total disability compensation depends not on whether the claimant is unable to perform the duties of the position of employment, but also on whether he continues to be a part of the active workforce. Because temporary total disability compensation is intended to compensate an injured worker for the loss of earnings while the injury heals, a claimant who is no longer part of the workforce can have no lost earnings. Makes sense, right?

In Floyd’s case, the appellate court concluded that in light of his having received Social Security retirement benefits in 2001 and never having pounded the pavement to find work in the 18 months after he retired from his former position, this was evidence that he had “voluntarily abandoned” the entire labor market.

Are there exceptions to this? We will address this in next week’s blog post.