Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-307 (a), in order for a claimant to be entitled to temporary total indemnity benefits, his injury must result in a total incapacity to work, defined as “the inability of the employee, because of his injuries, to work at his customary calling or at any other occupation he might reasonably follow. Cochran v. DOT, 220 Conn. App. 855, 867-868 (2023).
A claimant who voluntarily retires without any intention of returning to the workforce and in fact does not return to work is not entitled to temporary total indemnity benefits, pursuant to the recent cases of Martinoli v. Stamford Police Dep’t, 220 Conn. App. 874 (2023) and Cochran v. Dept. of Transportation, 220 Conn. App. 855, A.3d (2023).
Employers and insurers should be aware that in light of these decisions, temporary total disability status will no longer create an automatic entitlement to indemnity benefits for an injured worker.
If an employer learns that an employee with an open workers’ compensation claim has retired or is making plans to retire, they should consider notifying their carrier to ensure that this is noted on the claim in the event the claimant returns in the future to seek benefits.
The Appellate Court of Connecticut recently released two decisions – Martinoli v. Stamford Police Dep’t and Cochran v. Dept. of Transportation – that will change the way the Workers’ Compensation Commission applies Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-307 (a) in a setting where a claimant voluntarily enters retirement and later claims entitlement to temporary total indemnity benefits.
In both cases, the claimants brought compensable claims against their employers, then voluntarily retired and later on came back claiming to be temporarily totally disabled. The Appellate Court of Connecticut held that in the event that a claimant retires from work with no intention of returning to work and in fact does not return to work, a claimant is not entitled to temporary total indemnity benefits as it cannot be said that the claimant’s injury resulted in their total incapacity to work and there was no wage loss.
Based on Martinoli v. Stamford Police Dep’t and Cochran v. Dept. of Transportation, in the event that a claimant voluntarily retires without any intention of going back to work, they would not be entitled to temporary total indemnity benefits.
Insurance carriers and employers also should be aware that in the event that a claimant has plans to retire or in fact retires may have an impact on settlement value.
Please be aware that after these rulings, both claimants filed appeals with the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear these appeals. Therefore, the Appellate Court decisions remain controlling until/unless the Supreme Court overturns them.
If you have questions or concerns about how these recent cases may affect your business, please reach out to: