What are some workers’ compensation issues that older employees face when they are hurt on-the-job in Michigan?
Bridge published an interesting article on Michigan’s aging population. It referenced U.S. Census data that shows 21 of 83 counties have a median age of 50 years old or older. This is highest in the country. Michigan’s median age of 39.8 years ranks as 12th oldest in the nation. Economists have warned of a potential labor shortage.
The Detroit News published an article showing higher fatality rates for older people in the workforce. Statistics from 2015 show about 35 percent of fatal workplace accidents involved a worker 55 and older.
We found these articles fascinating because of the challenges older workers face when they are hurt on-the-job. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover medical treatment and lost wages regardless of age. Here are some workers’ compensation issues that older employee face when hurt on-the-job.
Slower recovery time
Our experience shows that older employees age 55+ have a more difficult time getting back to work. Recovery time can be slower for older people who have other health problems. Transitioning to a new job can also be difficult without vocational rehabilitation. It is no secret that employers discriminate against older people when looking to fill positions.
Tougher burden of proof
Michigan law requires an employee to show personal injury arising out of an in the course of employment. This can be difficult when he or she has some preexisting medical condition. Arthritis is used like a magic bullet to dispute claims even when facts are clear. The burden falls on the employee to show a medically distinguishable condition exists. Older employees should watch out for biased medical opinions from doctors hired by the insurance company.
Automatic age 65 reduction
Disabled employees are supposed to receive 80 percent of their after-tax average weekly wage. This amount can be reduced automatically by 5 percent at age 65. Additional 5 percent reductions occur each year until age 75 when half of their weekly checks are gone. The employer/insurance company can also choose to forgo the age 65 reduction and reduce weekly benefits based upon 50 percent of a person’s monthly Social Security retirement benefit. Expect the insurance company to select whichever method is financially better for them.
Insufficient survivors benefits
Death cases are some of the most challenging and difficult to explain. There is no amount of money that can ever replace a family member who died because of his or her job. Family members can seek up to 500 weeks of survivors benefits if they can show factual dependency. This is a difficult burden for spouses because income from other sources can be used to disqualify them. Children over age 21 can also be disqualified from any payments. A burial expense of $6,000 is the only workers’ compensation benefit paid if no qualifying dependent exist.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.