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L&I Pension Cases

When you hear the term “pension,” you probably think of retirement benefits. A Washington workers’ comp pension is different. RCW 51.08.060 defines permanent total disability (pension) as: “loss of both legs, or arms, or one leg and one arm, total loss of eyesight, paralysis or other condition permanently incapacitating the worker from performing any work at any gainful occupation.” If you cannot return to work after an on-the-job accident or disability occupational disease, an L&I pension may be your best option.

At The Walthew Law Firm, our top-rated Washington workers’ compensation attorneys have extensive experience handling L&I pension cases. We want to make sure that you have the tools and knowledge you need to protect your interests. Here, you will find a guide to L&I pension benefits in Washington. If you have specific questions about L&I pensions, your legal rights, or options, please contact our law firm for immediate help.

An Overview of Washington State L&I Pensions

Washington workers’ compensation pension benefits are paid directly by Labor & Industries. You may be eligible for L&I pension benefits whether or not your date-of-injury employer offers its own pension plan. These benefits are designed to support workers who cannot return to work because of many factors – their age, education, work history, pre-existing disabling conditions, and the effects of the industrial injury or occupational disease. Here are three key things to know about L&I pensions in Washington State:

  1. L&I Pensions are for Workers Who Will Never Return to Work: The single most important thing to know about L&I pensions is that these benefits are for injured workers who cannot return to gainful employment. Under Washington law (WAC 296-14-150), gainful employment is defined as a regular occupation for income or salary. Put another way, if your doctor or vocational counselor says that you cannot ever work again because of a job-related injury or illness, you should pursue L&I pension benefits.
  2. Pension Benefit Payments are based on Your Time Loss Rate: Pension benefit payments are paid for your lifetime and, if you elect, for your spouse or child’s lifetimes. You may be wondering: how is my pension calculated? The short answer is that your monthly wages at the time of your accident, receipt of Social Security benefits, and whether you select an Option to provide benefits to a spouse, child, or domestic partner determine your pension rate. Notably, Washington State L&I pension benefits are not counted as taxable income for Federal income tax purposes.
  3. Qualifying for an L&I Pension Can Be Challenging: Unfortunately, it is not always easy for injured workers to receive an L&I pension. You need to present a strong case that proves that you cannot work again at gainful employment. Many factors will be considered in assessing eligibility, including your age, education, and work experience. Most importantly, injured workers need comprehensive, compelling medical and vocational documentation that prove permanent total disability. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you put together the medical and vocational information and opinions that you need to support your claim.

Only a small percentage of workers’ compensation claims in Washington end in an L&I pension. The claims process and path to a total disability pension is difficult to navigate. You do not have to go through it alone. If you or your loved one cannot return to the workforce after suffering a job-related injury or developing an occupational disease, contact an experienced Seattle L&I pension attorney for immediate help.

L&I Pensions in Washington: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How is an L&I Pension Different from a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Award?

A PPD award compensates workers who have a permanent partial impairment as a consequence of their on-the-job injury or occupational disease. It is a fixed amount that is paid to workers who have or can return to gainful employment even in a less lucrative, light-duty position. In contrast, an L&I pension is for impaired workers who cannot work again.

Q. Are L&I Pension Benefits Adjusted for Cost-of-Living?

Yes. Each year, the Department of Labor & Industries calculates and applies a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) to workers’ compensation benefits. L&I pension benefits usually increase each year to account for cost-of-living changes. The specific COLA benefit will depend on the change in the state average wage for the previous year.

Q. Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Affect an L&I Pension?

They might. Under Washington State law, an offset may be applied to an L&I pension based on receipt of Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you are applying for (or receiving) Social Security disability or SSI benefits, an experienced Washington workers’ compensation lawyer will make sure that your benefits are paid according to the offset laws so that you get the maximum benefits possible.

How the Washington L&I Pension Attorneys at The Walthew Law Firm Can Help

The workers’ compensation claims process is notoriously complex—especially so for people who suffered severe injuries. At The Walthew Law Firm, we are committed to helping injured workers and their families maximize their workers’ compensation benefits. You may be entitled to an L&I pension. When you contact our Seattle office, you will have an opportunity to speak to a Washington workers’ compensation lawyer who can:

  • Conduct a free, comprehensive review of your L&I pension case;
  • Answer questions and explain your rights/options under Washington state law;
  • Investigate the case—gathering medical records, vocational records, and claim file; and
  • Take all necessary steps to help you get the full and fair L&I pension benefits you deserve.

We are committed to providing personalized workers’ compensation representation to each and every client. With more than 90 years representing injured workers in Washington state, our firm has a long history of success handling complex claims. We are prepared to put the time and resources into your L&I claim to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

Call Our Washington L&I Lawyers for Immediate Legal Help

At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington workers’ comp attorneys have the skills, knowledge, and legal experience to help you and your family maximize your benefits. If you have any questions or concerns about qualifying for an L&I pension, we are more than happy to help. To set up a no-cost, no-obligation review of your case, please contact us right away. With offices in Seattle and Everett, we handle L&I pension issues throughout Washington, including in Bellevue, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Tukwila, Shoreline, Kent, Federal Way, and Lynnwood.

Our clients are saying:

“I just wanted to reiterate how excited we are for how everything worked out in this fight for a lifetime pension. We are very grateful for all the hard work you and Patrick have put in working on this case for such a long time and being able to prevail! That you very much again!”


“Words cannot express how grateful we are for your help in our L&I case. I am confident we could not have secured better representation.”


“I want to let you know that I truly appreciate all the efforts you put into ensuring that I received what is due to me. I really thank you for your thoughtfulness, care and kind words.”


“There are no words to express my gratitude for all the help you have given me during this part of my journey over the many years. The Walthew Law Firm lawyers and office people are the very best.”


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Offices in Seattle and Everett.

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PO Box 34645
Seattle, WA 98124-1645
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3000 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

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2906 Colby Ave | Suite 101
Everett, WA 98201

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