Everyone who has been through the process before knows that obtaining workers' compensation benefits is no simple matter. Although the idea is good, workers' compensation has never been simple for injured workers to obtain. Insurance and government insurance carriers are notorious for limited and denying the claims of injured workers, and the process can be extremely complicated.
What Could Happen to Workers' Compensation?
Now, it seems like the situation might get even worse for injured workers. According to a recent report from the Morning Call, the Pennsylvania legislature is considering borrowing from the State Workers Insurance Fund. The only problem is this fund is carrying a deficit.
What is the State Workers Compensation Fund?
The State Workers Insurance Fund is an insurer operated by the Department of Labor & Industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that provides workers' compensation coverage when employers and other traditional insurance carriers do not. It is meant to be used as a last resort for workers who cannot obtain coverage they should have received elsewhere.
What will happen to the fund?
Apparently, the legislature is discussing the possibility of using this fund to help balance the commonwealth's $31.6 billion budget. No one seems to be proposing to simply take money from the fund, but rather take out a "temporary loan" from the fund and draw up a repayment plan.
The main problem with this proposal is that there is no money in the fund. Actually, the State Workers Compensation Fund is operating on a deficit. According to the Morning Call article, "[t]he fund carries $1.5 billion in financial assets, mostly investments from fixed-rate bonds and some stocks, the audit shows. That compares to $1.7 billion in long-term liabilities for workers' approved claims."
That means the fund is in the red to the tune of $200 million.
What does this mean for injured Pennsylvania workers?
Although this proposal is not official and is only in the discussion stage, it does bring up a more important point: Workers' compensation is not getting any easier to obtain.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, it is more important than ever to make sure you work with an experienced attorney who can help you protect your rights and obtain the compensation you need.