Senator Robach Announces Important Agreement To Reform Workers Compensation System

Joseph E. Robach

March 09, 2007

In addition to an increase in benefits, employer costs, which are among the highest in the nation, will be reduced by 10 to 15 percent with savings to grow over time.

*The maximum weekly benefit for injured workers will be increased from $400 to $500 in the first year, $550 in the second year, $600 in the third year, and to two-thirds of the average weekly wage in New York in the fourth year. Once the maximum benefit reaches two-thirds of the average weekly wage, the maximum benefit will be indexed annually;

*Cost savings worth hundreds of millions of dollars will be achieved by setting maximum number of years that a small population of claimants can receive cash benefits. Medical services will continue, however, and a safety net will be established to help these workers return to gainful employment and to intervene in cases of extreme hardship;

*Strong anti-fraud measures will be in place, including the ability to stop work on a job site where a company has failed to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for its workers, higher criminal penalties for violators and debarment provisions;

February 1, 2008. The Superintendent of Insurance will make a recommendation to the State Legislature in September 2007 as to what, if anything, should replace it.

In addition, after close consultation with the legislature, the Governor has directed the Superintendent of Insurance along with appointees of the legislature, business and labor to work with the Workers Compensation Board, the Department of Labor and legislative Task Forces to pursue a number of additional reforms administratively and to make recommendations about additional legislation. These important initiatives include:

-Designing an expedited hearing process to reduce litigation and speed the time it takes for workers to receive treatment and return to work; and

The accord was hailed by business and labor advocates.