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What older employees should know about workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2022 | Worker's Compensation

Many Americans who are in the workforce today are well past what used to be considered “retirement age.” In fact, in 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nearly a quarter of working Americans were 55 or older. Some are working because they can’t afford to retire. Others simply have no interest in retiring. 

Many of these workers have physically strenuous jobs, such as those in the construction industry. Others have jobs where they use repetitive motions – whether it’s running a cash register or working on a factory floor. These jobs and others can result in injury.

Older workers often have the experience that helps them avoid injuries caused by a lack of safety precautions. However, an injury like a fall can be far more serious and take longer to heal than it would be for a younger co-worker. Perhaps because more older people are still working in potentially dangerous occupations, the number of fatal workplace injuries among people over 55 is higher than it’s ever been.

Why everyone should report workplace injuries

Some older workers hesitate to report their injuries because they fear it will reinforce others’ belief that they’re too old for the job – or to work at all. They may also fear – wrongfully – that they aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation because of their age and maybe some pre-existing conditions or past injuries that could make this new one even worse.

Workers who suffer a workplace injury or illness have the same right to workers’ comp to help cover medical expenses and lost wages as younger ones. Further, it’s illegal for an employer to terminate or otherwise retaliate against any worker for seeking workers’ comp when they have a valid claim.

What if you retire while receiving workers’ comp?

If a person does decide to retire while they’re receiving workers’ comp, they can still get Social Security retirement benefits if they’ve reached the appropriate age. However, it’s important to know how these benefits affect your workers’ comp benefits under North Carolina law and to let your workers’ comp provider know if you start receiving any kind of retirement benefits.

It can all be frustrating and confusing. If you’re having trouble getting the workers’ comp benefits to which you’re entitled, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights and help ensure you get the financial assistance you need.