The second injury fund was established to encourage Missouri employers to hire disabled or previously injured workers without the fear of incurring chargeable costs against their workers compensation policy. It accomplished this by providing a fund for payment of injuries for those workers.
It’s funded by a surcharge added to each workers compensation policy issued. Historically this surcharge would be adjusted from time to time depending on the health of the fund or the need to generate more or less revenue to maintain the funds existence. However in 2005 the state legislature established a 3 percent cap on the surcharge. Several studies later it has been proven that the 3 percent surcharge does not adequately provide the necessary funding. Three years later it was apparent that the funding gap had continued to widen. In 2011 the fund had collected approximately $45 million in revenue and at that time had pending claims totaling over $75 million! It’s estimated there are around $32 million in current payments due injured or disabled workers with somewhere over 29,000 new claims currently in a holding pattern.
So, what’s new? Current legislation on the governor’s desk will:
- Allow an increase of the surcharge from 3 percent to six percent from 2014 through 2021. It is suggested that the additional funds raised by this increase will be used to settle up on outstanding claims and provide enough funding to go forward.
- Tighten up the requirements of a qualified injury. In the future to access payments from the second injury fund a worker will need to have a permanent disability that’s documented as a result of active military duty or from a prior work related injury. Permanent partial disabilities of extremities may also apply.
There are other issues covered within this legislation that will likewise have an impact on how the fund works in the future. The primary fix at this point seems to be to generate more money by raising the surcharge while at the same time limit the type of claims that qualify for a response from the fund.
Is it a good start repairing Missouri’s Second Injury Fund problems? That remians to be seen. But at least it’s something…
For more information on this topic contact your Missouri State Representative.
Contact the Missouri Second Injury Fund through the Missouri Department of Labor at 573-526-3543.
Hope this has been informative for you! Thanks!