Report Finds Workers’ Compensation Benefits Decreased in Massachusetts and Across U.S.
According to a report that was recently published by the National Academy of Social Insurance (“NASI”), workers’ compensation benefits paid per $100 of employee payroll declined by five percent between 2009 and 2013 in the United Sates. At the same time, employer costs and the number of workers employed across the country reportedly increased. In addition, “Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2013” states the benefits available to injured employees in 2013 was one of the lowest rates recorded in more than 30 years. Last year, injured workers in the U.S. collected about $63.6 billion in benefits, even though employers paid approximately $88.5 billion into various state workers’ compensation insurance programs.
Between 2009 and 2013, the percent of payroll benefits available to injured employees declined in 39 states. Although workplace accident injuries reportedly dropped during that time, many state legislatures made it more difficult for employees to qualify for work-related disability and other benefits. More stringent legal rules, reduced medical coverage, and additional filing and other requirements apparently made it tougher for workers across the nation to file a successful workers’ compensation benefit claim.
As a result of rapidly rising medical costs, health care expenses now comprise a larger share of workers’ compensation payments than they did 35 years ago. In 1980, medical expenses accounted for about 29 percent of workers’ compensation benefit payments. Today, that number exceeds 50 percent. According to the NASI report, 33 states now spend at least half of their benefits budget on securing medical care for injured employees.
Due to differences in state workers’ compensation laws and dominant industries, national and state trends are not always the same. Additionally, each state economy has recovered from the recent recession at a different rate. For example, only Arkansas and New Mexico failed to see a rise in the number of workers covered between 2009 and 2013. Similarly, employer workers’ compensation costs in 2013 were significantly higher than the national average in Alaska, Montana, and Oklahoma, while the lowest percentage of benefits paid to hurt workers based on percentage of payroll occurred in Arkansas, Texas, and Washington, DC. During the same year, employer costs per $100 of worker payroll increased in 27 states.
In Massachusetts, workers who are unable to perform their job duties for at least five days as a result of a workplace injury are eligible to receive weekly financial compensation and medical care. Workers’ compensation benefits are also available to the surviving spouse and any dependents of a person who was killed in a tragic work-related accident. In some cases, vocational retraining may be available if an employee’s workplace injury prevents the employee from returning to his or her prior occupation.
If you were injured at work in Boston, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The skilled lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are available to help you navigate the sometimes confusing process of filing your workers’ compensation claim. To speak with a veteran Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your rights, you should contact Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. through our website or give us a call today at 800-367-0871.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injured Workers Continue to Decline While Employer Costs Rise, NASI Press Release dated August 12, 2015