By: Nathaniel Hofman, Esq.
65 is not necessarily the age of retirement anymore. In fact, the percentage of individuals age 65 and even older who are working is on the rise. This trend has been attributed to several causes, including the “great-recession,” shrinking pensions, expanding life expectancy, and an increased cost of living. As the working population ages, it follows that the age of the average workers’ compensation claimant will increase as well. While this trend provides many benefits to employers with the experience, wisdom and maturity that older workers bring, it also gives rise to specific issues in workers’ compensation claims for these workers.
A somewhat obvious issue is aggravations of pre-existing issues, which are compensable in Georgia’s workers’ compensation system. Compared with a young employee, an employee over the age of 65 is much more likely to have pre-existing/ degenerative issues and will be more susceptible to aggravate these conditions with what would be non-injury occurrences in a younger employee. Once a job offer is made, a post-offer medical questionnaire that is relevant to the job and its requirements can ask the employee about medical conditions, including muscular and skeletal conditions, to ensure the employee is capable of performing the job duties. Employers cannot discriminate in the hiring process based on an applicant’s age and asking such questions during the interview process is
a no-no, but asking these questions after the offer is made can be appropriate to ensure the position is not a health hazard for the employee and that the tasks of the position will not cause aggravations. In addition, transitioning aging employees to less physically demanding positions and having employees submit to annual physicals can help prevent work related injuries, therefore reducing the number of claims filed.
KDA offers a sample of a post-offer questionnaire in the Resources section of our website or click here. If you need assistance or have specific questions on an appropriate post offer questionnaire, please contact your KDA attorney.