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PTA Blog Talk

Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

Published September 5, 2013 3:51 PM by Jason Marketti

Federal age discrimination laws state that an employer may not discriminate on basis of age for those who are 40 years old and older (provided your employer has more than 20 employees). I am over 40 years old so this affects me personally. Last week, I posted a blog asking why there is no mandatory retirement age for "old" therapists. I didn't anticipate there would be so many therapists who thought of themselves as "old."

Some have accused me of being discriminatory based on retirement age but those therapists ignore the U.S. Army, which has a mandatory retirement age of 62 and an age limit to enlist. Airline pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65, yet I don't see therapists rallying to their aid to change this nor do I see therapists petitioning the government to change the mandatory retirement and enlistment ages of those in the armed forces. And where were those therapists when school bus drivers were fighting the mandatory retirement age of 65?

If a job is dangerous or requires a high level of physical and mental skill, there's a probability the position will come with a mandatory retirement age. Is our job dangerous? Yes, we are faced with potential blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases with every patient we touch. Does our job require a high level of physical and mental skill? Yes, this goes without saying. Therapists have the luxury of treating patients and working while others are forced into retirement even if they are physically and mentally able to perform the job.

There is no governing board or group of physicians who look into our health and mental status before we're issued a license to practice. If I suggest this should be changed to protect the public from therapy license holders, how is this age discrimination? A therapist could have early-onset dementia (or Parkinson's) and still practice while potentially putting the public at risk. But at the mere mention of a therapist possibly having significant balance and memory impairments, I'm called ageist and discriminatory.

Maybe those therapists who called me discriminatory could petition the state boards to eliminate any wording regarding the mental health status of PTs and PTAs in the rules and regulations. A mental illness is a chronic disease and shouldn't have to be disclosed when applying for licensure. Those same therapists who want to protect the public from the mentally ill and deny licensure to them, will probably see nothing wrong with allowing licensure to a therapist who scored poorly on a balance test or memory exam.

Please email me with your thoughts: ptablogtalk@gmail.com

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5 comments

Again Jason, you only point out certain facts, but forget to look at all of the truths. HEALTH PROFESSIONALS and CHAPLAINS are allowed to stay in the military until AGE 68. Other Officers are allowed to stay until 64 and the President can extend whoever he wishes to the age of 68. Also a Service Secretary can call ANY inactive personnel back to Active Duty at any given time, if they are so needed. Reagan was 69 when is was elected as our Commander in Chief, therefore he was 77 when he finished his two terms. This could go on and on and on. My PT Professor was in her 80s, some of those FAPTA folks up there are How Old? Just adding that FAA pilots use to have a mandatory retirement at 60 then they upped it to 65 and that's in the US. Some instructors are allowed to teach many years longer. And I could go on and on and on.  

Yes Jeanne you are correct. It's a very OLD viewpoint! I agree with you,

RETIRE IT!

Donald Meadows, PTA March 29, 2014 10:18 AM
Robertsdale AL

Hi terry, I think your comment may be directed towards me, not 100% sure, but will comment anyway! No one is taking care of my parents at this point! They WERE blessed not to need PT as they aged. My comments come purely from my own experience as  a PT of many years. I have treated all age groups and in many settings. I love what I do and I am reviewed and told that I do my job very well. So my point to jason was people-including PT's_ can work many long,productive years. It is a case by case decision & his comments were verging on being discriminatory relative to age & even mental health. From reading his posts, he seems to be a PTA who would like to be a PT... without the  required process being followed!

Jeanne September 12, 2013 4:29 PM

I think Jason knows what he is talking about-only because he has been taking care of-your mom and dad,my mom and dad-if you have an issue with that, talk to your care takers. Jason is doing everything he can to make our elderly parents comfortable.

terry tesch September 12, 2013 2:47 AM
menasha WI

You do have some interesting points and I agree there are some therapists who would serve the public better if they just retired.  I am not sure we would want MD's dictating when we should retire though and state boards would need to revamp how they issue licenses. Maybe have the therapists send in a physical to the board to show they are able to perform the job every couple of years after age 65.    

Therapists should know when to retire but unfortunately that is not always the case.  

Karen September 7, 2013 12:24 AM

Jason, You are way off base on this blog especially if it is in response to your former blog. Your comments on other professions and their required retirement age limits is not relative to our profession. If a therapist is incompetent, mentally unstable and not receiving effective treatment, unable to perform his/her job (including a memory or balance test if required), then they are not hired or written up and if need be, let go. What is at the bottom of your angst? I hope you get it resolved and move on to another topic. This one relative to your viewpoint is getting "old"!!

Jeanne September 5, 2013 4:55 PM

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    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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