On August 27, 2014, the Ohio Supreme court issued its unanimous opinion in State, ex rel. Floyd v. Formica Corp., 2014-Ohio-3614, ruling that where a claimant voluntarily retires from the workforce following an injury, he or she becomes ineligible for a new period of temporary total disability while recovering from a post-retirement surgery. Formica was represented in this case by Dinsmore Partner Joan Verchot.
The facts in the Floyd case were critical to the Court’s decision to uphold the Industrial Commission’s denial of the Claimant’s request for temporary total compensation. Mr. Floyd had been injured at work in March, 2000. He eventually returned to work in a light duty assignment which ended in January, 2001. Mr. Floyd then began receiving temporary total compensation and, at age 63, began receiving Social Security retirement benefits effective April, 2001. After undergoing surgery in the claim in November, 2010, Mr. Floyd applied for a new period of temporary total compensation.
The Industrial Commission denied the request, finding that Mr. Floyd was no longer in the workforce in November, 2010, having retired in 2001 and not having searched for employment since that time. In the Floyd decision, the Supreme Court upheld the denial of temporary total compensation, stating: “Because temporary-total-disability compensation is intended to compensate an injured worker for loss of earnings while the industrial injury heals, a claimant who is no longer part of the workforce can have no lost earnings.”
The Court went on to clarify that even where a departure from the workforce is injury-induced, a claimant still becomes ineligible for future periods of temporary total where he or she has foreclosed the possibility of future employment by abandoning the entire workforce. In Mr. Floyd’s case, the Court relied upon the Claimant’s decision to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, and the lack of evidence of any job search since 2001, to find that he had already abandoned the workforce prior to this 2010 surgery, and was therefore ineligible for a new period of temporary total compensation.
The Ohio Supreme Court decision will likely help set a precedent for future cases with similar facts, and employers should be aware of how their workers’ compensation policies address such issues. Contact your Dinsmore Workers’ Compensation attorney to determine how this ruling may impact your workers’ compensation program.