8-30-11; A great thought for IL WC reform, round III

A reader sent us an article about a ruling from Minnesota that might be fodder for future IL WC reform.

In Minnesota, they have a presumption of retirement at age 67 in their WC Act. This presumption cuts off T&P benefits at the time a claimant would normally be able to retire.

The Minnesota Supreme Court in Frandsen vs. Ford Motor Co. reviewed the issue of whether Ford waived the retirement presumption in Minnesota's workers' compensation law simply by failing to expressly reserve the presumption in a settlement agreement. The presumption states that permanent total disability benefits shall cease at age 67 because the employee is presumed retired from the labor market.

Workers can rebut the presumption, court records state. It appears there was no dispute Mr. Frandsen was permanently and totally disabled.

A settlement agreement did not mention Ford potentially discontinuing benefits or the statutory retirement presumption and, in September 2010, Ford petitioned to discontinue paying the PTD benefits pursuant to the retirement presumption.

Ford argued in a hearing Mr. Frandsen could not rebut the retirement presumption because he had stated in a deposition that he planned to retire when he was 66. Mr. Frandsen objected and argued he was entitled to continue receiving the benefits.

In the 2011 Amendments to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, our legislature, in its wisdom, cut wage loss differential benefits at age 67 or five years, whichever is later. We feel the same concept should apply to T&P benefits that currently result in boxcar numbers for settlements.