Older and injured at work workers in Kentucky recently received a major win from the Kentucky Supreme Court in Parker v. Webster County Coal LLC. The decision struck down the provision in Kentucky workers compensation law, KRS 342.730(4), that limited older workers to receiving Kentucky workers compensation benefits only up to the time they became eligible to receive "normal 0ld-age Social Security retirement benefits" or "two(2) years after the employee's injury or last exposure, whichever last occurs." The situation of the plaintiff, Marshall Parker, a coal miner, shows how this limit was harmful to older workers.

Mr. Parker began working as a coal miner in 1974. In September 2008, when he was 68, he sustained back and knee injuries on the job and was never able to return to work in any capacity.  He received two years of temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. Based on the limits in KRS 342.730(4), the ALJ in his case ruled that Mr. Parker wasn't entitled to any income benefits related to his permanent partial disability.

Here's how this made a difference for Mr. Parker. An injured worker under Kentucky workers compensation law is entitled to receive permanenent partial disability (PPD) benefits for 425 weeks (it can go up to 520 weeks under some circumstances). If, however, they sustain the work injury while they are less than 425 weeks away from becoming eligible to receive "normal old-age Social Security retirement benefits" they will receive less benefits simply because of their age, two years or 104 weeks in Mr. Parker's case. So Mr. Parker stood to lose an amount of money equal to 321 weeks of Kentucky workers compensation benefits, which is over 6 years worth of benefits. As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, Mr. Parker and other older workers that suffer a work injury will be able to receive all the Kentucky workers compensation benefits to which they are entitled.

There will not be that many older workers that are affected by this decision; but those that are will be able to receive the Kentucky workers compensation benefits that are provided by Kentucky law.

The Court's opinion was written by Justice Michelle Keller and joined by Justices Bill Cunningham, Daniel J. Venters, and Samuel T. Wright III.

Lexington, Kentucky workers compensation lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees on Kentucky workers compensation claims; contact him at 859-254-7076.


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