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Dr. says "career altering damage"...? Oregon

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  • Dr. says "career altering damage"...? Oregon

    I will do my best to put this in a nut shell. I am a police officer and injured my rt shoulder in 1998. Over the course of the next 2 years I had 4 surgeries on the shoulder and ended up with what they call a "shoulder reconstruction. Workman's comp was never an issue and they accepted the claim without any static.

    My shoulder has never been the same and I have always had pain with it. It had been a struggle. Over the last four years it has steadly gotten worse and the mobility is less while the pain is increasing...pretty much on a daily basis.

    Finally checked in with the same surgeon after getting okay from workman's comp to reopen claim as a re-aggravation and after an x-ray he discovered severe arthritis. He told me the shoulder is degenerating and the damage is potentially career altering. I am sheduled for an MRI this Monday.

    Here's the meat of my question....If he determines I can't work as a cop anymore then what? Do they declare me disabled? It should also be noted that I don't work at the same agency as I did when I was initially injured, so the w/c carriers are not the same. How would I be compensated? Would I get a disability check? Am I forced to seek employment that won't effect my shoulder? I have many questions about the process and my husband and I are not necessarily in a position to not have to worry about it financially. Not to mention the fact that a career that has been worked hard for may come to a close..

    Thanks in advance for reading this far and I look forward to responses..


  • #2

    If you are a police officer in Oregon are you also a member of the Public Employees Retirement System? If so, and this is an on-the-job injury you may also want to check into that. I know that OPERS has a disability retirement program that covers it members.


    • #3
      Yes, I have been a member of PERS for quite some time. I don't know that they will be all that helpful in their current state of affairs. I will check into any disabilitity issues there tho~ THx, hadn't thought of that.

      Anyone else have any idea's about the rest of the system and my original post? My head is spinning...


      • #4
        Unless you reinjured yourself at the new job the claim would remain with the original carrier. If you can not continue working, as a result of the original injury, then you may be a candidate for voc rehab. That would help with job retraining nad placement assistance.

        As you are a public employee, you are also undoubtedly covered by a retirement plan that covers on the job disability.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


        • #5

          You would probably be better off in the long run seriously looking into PERS.
          The state I retired from, on occupational disability, is very similar to Oregons plan. We are just a few thousand miles north. In our plan if you go out on an occupational disability you also get health/medical insurance for yourself and your family at no cost.

          The rules are a little different than workers comp and it took longer to actually get the retirement, 2 years, but it was retroactive. I also collected workers comp benefits during that time. In our State WC and PERS are totally seperate and one has noting to do with the other.

          I did have to hire an attorney to help me with it but it was well worth the cost. His fee was limited to 20% of my retroactive payments and nothing else.

          Good luck.


          • #6
            Retirement and WC are mutually exclusive in every state. It is well worth hiring a lawyer though as they do impact one another.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


            • #7
              PERS retirement

              I would have to disagree. My attorney had to take my retirement claim all the way to our States supreme court. They made a specific finding these two are seperate. The defendants in our case, the State, tried to argue that since WC found that I was eligible for voc rehab, then obviously I wasn't entitled to a PERS disability retirement. Our states Supreme Court ruled that these were seperate systems. Specifically they found that the burden of proof for establishing a workers comp claim was less restrictive than what was required under PERS.

              I could have collected a PTD benefit from workers comp. and a disability retirement from PERS. We choose a C & R with the WC as I in particular was more interested in a lump sum rather than them constantly calling me in for more EME's which they could do every 6 months.

              Agreed evey State is different. Agreed an attorney is a major assest in these types of deal.


              • #8
                Pers and WComp

                Stiffneck, did you follow through with the Voc Rehab after your retirement was approved? The good thing about pers is if you are unable to perform "your" duties with a pers contracted agency and you have a industrial injury most likely you can retire with disability. Taking 2 yrs is tooo long..


                • #9
                  No, we C&R'd all the work comp benefits. I didn't want the disability to begin with. I just got made into a political scape goat the first time an opportunity arose. That's why it took 2 years. I have heard from others since then that the time span is usually less than 6 months.


                  • #10

                    Is your injury stable? You won't need futher medical care?
                    I'm looking into the Pers retirement myself, I am a state safety employee and been off work 9 months with 3rd injury, having 4th surgery in Sept. I don't think I will be able to continue my "duties" when I recover, without getting injured again. I have 20 yrs working for a public agency and enough is enough.


                    • #11
                      Yes, my injury was stable. Since it was an occupational injury retirement, PERS health insurance couldn't deny my coverage. There just wasn't any sense in keeping the WC involved. Those guys could mess up a rock fight in a gravel pit. I wish I still had the job though. It was fun and it payed a lot more.


                      • #12
                        I've read all of the reply's and thank you all so much for the great suggestions.

                        I am still left with so many questions though. I am really going into this blind and know I will have to wail until the MRI on Monday and then will find out the results on the following Monday. Even without the MRI the DR. is hinting that the arthritis is severe enough at this point that it will most likely mean I can't work anymore as a cop.

                        If this is the case, Do they automatically declare me disabled? Will workman's comp give me a monthly paycheck and if so will it be at the rate I was making at the time of my injury or at the time of the re-aggravation? Does disability also give me a chunk? Then there is the disability insurance as well. I had it with the employer I was working for when I was injured, and of course have it now with my current employer, but who would pay that out?

                        I'm sorry if it seems if I'm asking the same questions, but I'm just looking for the nuts and bolts of it.

                        I know you in Oregon you don't have to hire a workman's comp atty (they only charge you when they have to appeal) but the last one I had was worthless and got me a lame settlement for the permament partial disability I already have for the shoulder. Would it be to my advantage to actually hire one instead?

                        I have had 4 surgeries on this shoulder and after the 2nd surgery they told me I'd never work again. I refused to accept that and took my shoulder to another doctor who performed two more surgeries which has managed to get me 4 more years of work. It has taken it's toll and I am no longer willing to risk the use of my limb for a career. It would be disappointing to be told I can't be a cop anymore, but I am not against having to go on disability or what not either at this point. As another poster said...enough is enough...


                        • #13

                          At this point I would seriously hire an attorney that is experienced with the PERS retirement system. As for your disability insurance all I can say is good luck collecting on that. I had a similar plan through my state's employer. That told me that unless I was 90% DEAD they wouldn't pay a dime. They figure as long as you are breathing you can do some kind of work. I don't know about Oregon workers comp attorneys but it sounds like you may actually need to hire one for this. You are dealing with some fairly complex issues with the previous work injuries and what not. Good luck......


                          • #14
                            Pers in Oregon

                            Kittnz, call Pers and ask them to send you the Disability retirement packet/info. I was the one who said enough is enough, our stories are very similar, I only lasted 9 months after returning to work, now hurt again, Pers in California is great and hopefully is the same in Oregon, call and speak to someone about your situation, ask them "if your workers comp claim has anything to do with a Pers disability retirement, do they off set any of your final settlement????" In California they do not, they only use your medical reports to justify the disablity, or if it meets the requirements to retire with industrial disability. If you do retire with Pers you should recieve a monthly amount for the rest of your life, or until you recover... which from what you say thats not going to happen. Hope this helps!!


                            • #15

                              The MRI came back "inconclusive", most likely due to previous hardware already in the shoulder. As long as Workmans's comp okay's it I am scheduled for exploratory surgery next thurdsay.

                              I have been acting as a detective for the last 1.5 years. They just told me on Thursday that due to 'schudeling issues" I will be reassinged to patrol duties to being in Sept. This severly changes my function and disablility. Now I am left with even more question.

                              The Dr. is trying to act quick, but I don't know that workman's comp will keep up.

                              Even more questions and lots of stress now....



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