Workers’ Comp Alert: Appellate Division Holds That Termination of Active Employment Triggers the Retirement Presumption

Maine Workers' Comp Alert

In Jones v. Mead Paper, Me. WCB App. Div. 18-12 (March 23, 2018), the employee appealed a decision finding the retirement presumption in § 223 renders her ineligible for incapacity benefits.

To invoke the “retirement presumption” in § 223 of the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer has the burden to prove: (1) the employee terminated active employment; and (2) that she received a nondisability pension or retirement benefits paid by the employer, including old age social security benefits.

The employee argued that the presumption should not apply because her work injuries rendered her unable to fulfill her duties and, in conjunction with the employers’ failure to accommodate her, effectively forced her to retire. The Appellate Division rejected this argument, finding § 223 does not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary retirement. Employees who take early retirement are subject to the presumption if they terminate “active employment.” “Neither the fact that she was working with restrictions nor her claim that her job exceeded her capacity defeat application of the retirement presumption.”

Lastly, the Appellate Division found that the employee failed to rebut the presumption as she did not produce evidence that she was medically unable to work.