The workforce in the United States is aging, and that could have an impact on workers’ compensation claims. If you’re an older adult nearing retirement age and you’re injured on the job, you may have some unique challenges to overcome when you’re seeking coverage for medical expenses, lost time from work, and disability benefits.
Higher Costs for Employers
It’s a simple fact that old age often leads to health problems and greater risk of injury. That can lead to more frequent workers’ comp claims for companies employing increasingly older workforces.
In some cases, the higher cost that this could bring may lead to more reluctance from employers when it comes to paying workers’ compensation benefits to their employees, including older workers. That means if you suffer an injury while on the job, you may be more likely to encounter resistance from your employer when seeking benefits.
Workers’ Comp and Preexisting Conditions
Decades of living can take their toll, and any injuries or illnesses you might have suffered in the past can have a lasting impact on you. That includes increasing the odds of work-related injuries.
Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to compensation if you are injured in the course of performing work-related duties, regardless of whether a preexisting condition might have contributed to it. As long as you report your injury on time, you should be able to receive benefits. Don’t let your employer try to convince you otherwise.
This also applies if your work aggravates your condition. For example, if you have a bad knee and your work involves long hours of standing or walking, you could receive workers’ comp if your knee starts acting up more than usual. If you can link it to your work duties, you’ll have a solid case for benefits.
Cumulative Stress Injuries
Not all work injuries are dramatic. Some involve long-term damage from consistently repeated movements. Over decades of work in the same capacity, you may develop a cumulative stress injury from performing the same tasks over and over.
These types of injuries are often harder to deal with when it comes to securing workers’ compensation benefits. It’s usually unclear when a cumulative strain injury first started to develop, which means it may be harder to connect it to your work. That said, the timeline for reporting a work injury only starts when you notice that you’re injured, so as long as you’re prompt, you should be fine.
It’s important not to brush off cumulative strain injuries. If you’re hurting, see a doctor and report it to your employer. If you and your doctor are reasonably certain that your pain is a result of your occupational duties, you likely have a valid claim.
Workers’ Comp Benefits as an Older Adult
While it’s true that old age can make workplace injuries more likely, that doesn’t disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits in the event that you’re injured. Your job duties don’t need to be the primary cause of your injury. They just need to be one of the causes.
If you encounter resistance from your employer when requesting workers’ compensation benefits, contact an attorney. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will represent you and defend your rights in the event of a dispute.