On-the-job injuries: 8 things providers should know about medical retirement
Your options will vary depending on your agency’s benefits package and your state’s policies regarding injured workers, but you can prepare now
Authors’ note: Please note that while we can provide some general information on disability and medical retirement, please consult with a professional, your HR department or check with your state’s specific regulations for accurate and current information.
By Lynzie Wolters and Crystal Kanada
When someone is sick or injured, EMS providers are there to provide assistance. But what happens when a provider suffers a medical injury on the job? There are four major categories of work-related injuries and medical retirement for EMS providers to be aware of as they progress in their career
- Workers’ compensation. If an EMS provider sustains a work-related injury, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits typically cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and rehabilitation services. The specific eligibility criteria and benefits vary by state, so it’s crucial to consult with your state’s workers’ compensation agency for detailed information.
- Disability insurance. Depending on your state, you may or may not be eligible to participate in a state disability option. As such, providers may consider obtaining disability insurance, which provides income replacement in the event of a disability that prevents them from working. There are two types of disability insurance: short-term disability and long-term disability. Short-term disability insurance typically covers a portion of income for a limited period, while long-term disability insurance provides coverage for an extended period, often until retirement age. It’s essential to carefully review the policy terms, coverage limits, waiting periods and exclusions.
- Retirement plans. EMS providers should explore retirement plans offered by their employer, such as a pension plan or a 401(k) plan. These plans can provide financial security during retirement. Additionally, some states offer specific retirement plans for public employees, including EMS providers. Be sure to understand the eligibility requirements, vesting periods, contribution limits and any disability retirement provisions that may be available.
- Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a federal program that provides income benefits to individuals who have a severe disability preventing them from engaging in substantial gainful employment. To qualify, you must meet specific criteria related to your disability and work history. For more information, contact the Social Security Administration or consult with a disability attorney to understand the application process and eligibility requirements.
- Remember, the availability and specifics of disability and medical retirement options can vary by state and employer. It is crucial to consult with a financial professional, your employer’s human resources department, or your state’s retirement system to obtain accurate information tailored to your situation. Your employer may also have an employee handbook or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the benefits, policies, or procedures available to you.
7 considerations when weighing injury options
Suffering an injury on the job is a major life event that may require many lifestyle changes. Providers weighing their options should consider a variety of factors that may impact their decisions, including:
- Loss of income. Medical retirement often means the end of a career for providers, resulting in a significant loss of income. This can pose challenges in meeting ongoing financial obligations and maintaining the same standard of living.
- Medical expenses. Providers who retire due to medical reasons may face increased medical expenses for ongoing treatments, medications, or rehabilitation. These expenses can quickly deplete retirement savings and impact long-term financial security.
- Limitations of disability benefits. Depending on the circumstances and the specific retirement plan, EMS personnel may be eligible for disability benefits. However, navigating the complex process of applying for these benefits and ensuring they cover all necessary expenses can be a significant financial challenge.
- Available retirement savings. Medical retirement often occurs earlier than planned, which means providers may not have accumulated enough retirement savings to sustain them for the rest of their lives. This necessitates careful budgeting and potentially adjusting lifestyle expectations to make the available savings last.
- Insurance coverage. Medical retirement may result in changes to insurance coverage, including health insurance and disability insurance. Understanding the new coverage options, evaluating costs and ensuring adequate coverage for medical needs becomes crucial for financial planning.
- Impact on Social Security benefits. Understanding the impact of medical retirement on Social Security benefits is essential. Depending on the circumstances, EMS personnel may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or early retirement benefits, each with different implications for overall financial planning.
- Psychological impact. The transition from an active career in EMS to medical retirement can have significant psychological impacts which can affect financial decision-making. Seeking professional help, such as financial planners or therapists, can assist in managing these challenges.
The decision to medically retire from a career in EMS introduces a host of financial planning concerns into the conversation, and requires careful consideration and strategic decision-making to ensure financial stability and security during this transition. Seeking guidance from professionals experienced in retirement planning and disability benefits can be instrumental in navigating these challenges effectively.
About the authors
Lynzie Wolters ChFC® RICP® & Crystal Kanada are Registered Representatives offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Licensed Insurance Agency and a New York Life Company, (916) 781-7480, 2999 Douglas Blvd., Suite 350, Roseville, CA 95661. Lynzie Wolters is a Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Eagle Strategies LLC is a New York Life company. Lynzie Wolters & Crystal Kanada: CA Insurance License Number 0I20911 & 0H92673. Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services, Inc., is independently owned and operated from Eagle Strategies LLC and its affiliates. Information provided by Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services is for educational purposes only. Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services as well as Eagle Strategies LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Before taking any related planning actions, consult with your own professional counsel if needed.