If previously disabled workers are permanently and totally disabled as a result of a work-related injury, they are entitled to protection under New Jersey’s Second Injury Fund. The fund ensures that workers compensation benefits continue after the employer’s insurance carrier-covered benefits run out.
The fund originated in 1923 and was intended to encourage the hiring of partially disabled individuals — notably, veterans — and to buffer employers against costs for pre-existing injuries. Employers felt that such disabled candidates posed additional risk of future medical and benefits costs.
If qualified, the payments continue until the worker’s death, as long as the individual is completely disabled and remains unemployed. Rates are reduced if the recipient is also getting payments under Social Security or employer-related disability pensions.
After the first 450 weeks of benefits, recipients have to undergo rehabilitation if required by the Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services. You must also demonstrate that you are still unable to earn the same wages you earned at the time you received your permanent, complete disability.
Nationwide, second injury funds are becoming a target for state legislators looking to reduce costs. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, during the last 20 years, nearly 20 states have eliminated or phased-out these funds, including New York and Connecticut. Meanwhile Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania have functioning second injury funds much like New Jersey’s.
N.J.’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Office of Special Compensation Funds has more information available. Contact an experienced workers compensation attorney for guidance concerning your specific situation.
Posted in Workers Compensation