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Can Retirement Affect Workers’ Compensation?

Inquiries often arise regarding workplace injuries near retirement age, and as injury lawyers, we address these concerns within the framework of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013, which regulates compensation for injured workers in Victoria.

Illustrating this is a recent case where our injury law team handled a complex situation involving a 66-year-old client forced into early retirement due to deteriorating workplace injuries. Multiple knee surgeries rendered him incapable of performing his duties as a Health and Safety Officer, leading to redundancy by his employer at a Victorian construction company.

This prompted legal action against the former employer, and our collaborative efforts revealed that the client’s injuries had accumulated over the past decade of work. The resulting workers’ compensation significantly improved the client’s life, aiding him during a challenging period marked by medical appointments.

Weekly Compensation Payments

Clients are sometimes surprised to learn that any injury leading to time off work entitles them to weekly compensation payments. This entitlement covers time away from work and includes provisions for top-up payments if the worker returns on reduced hours.

Timing is crucial in compensation claims, with WorkSafe Victoria specifying that a worker’s entitlement to weekly payments ceases upon reaching retirement age unless specific conditions apply. The Act allows for 130 weeks of compensation in various scenarios outlined within its provisions.

Understanding Retirement Age

Section 169 of the Act outlines the entitlements for workers injured within 130 weeks of the deemed retirement age or after the retirement age. This ensures continued weekly payments up to 130 weeks, whether consecutive or not, providing protection against termination solely based on reaching the deemed retirement age.

For workers outside the 130-week timeframe of retirement age, Section 171 stipulates that weekly payments cease upon reaching retirement age, with exceptions outlined in Section 169 and other provisions.

The Impact of Section 171

Section 171’s effect is that workers are generally not entitled to weekly payments beyond retirement age unless Section 169 applies. An exception occurs if a worker returns to work before retirement age for a period but stops working again due to the injury, potentially affecting the entitlement to the full 130 weeks.

While such scenarios may not frequently arise, the law accounts for all possibilities. This anomaly in the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act could potentially impact workers close to the end of their careers, emphasizing the importance of understanding these provisions.