1.What is the Second Injury Fund and who is eligible?
First established in the 1920′s, the Second Injury Fund is intended to promote the hiring of disabled individuals and to reduce the potential costs of WC awards for employers for injuries or conditions pre-existing the last compensable work related accident. This is done by the Fund assuming payment of permanent disability benefits after an initial period during which the employer or his insurance carrier makes these payments.
To be eligible for Fund benefits, an individual must be totally and permanently disabled as the direct result of a work-related injury in combination with a pre-existing permanent partial disability. It is not necessary that the pre-existing permanent partial disability be work-related.
2.Are Second Injury Fund benefits paid in addition to regular compensation benefits?
No. Fund benefits are in the same amount as those received from the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier and begin when the employer’s obligation to make benefit payments cease.
3.How long are Second Injury Fund benefits payable?
Fund benefits are potentially paid during the lifetime of the injured worker so long as the injured worker remains totally and permanently disabled and unemployed. Benefits cease upon the death of the worker. Death, funeral and dependents’ benefits are not payable from the Fund.
4.Can I work and collect Second Injury Fund benefits?
In very limited circumstances you may earn wages while collecting Second Injury Fund benefits. However, any wages from employment will be used to reduce your benefit amount. This reduction is based upon the percentage that your current earnings bear to those at the time of your being declared permanently and totally disabled. Please note that benefits after the first 450 weeks are payable only if you (1) had submitted to the physical and/or educational rehabilitation as may be prescribed by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and (2) can show, that because of your continuing disability, you are unable to earn wages equal to those earned at the time of your permanent and total disability.
Please be aware that you are responsible for notifying the Office of Special Compensation Funds immediately when you begin earning wages. Failure to do so may result in reductions or removal of benefits to recover some or all benefits paid during employment.
You should also note that employment which calls into question your continuing permanent and total disability may give rise to a reevaluation of your medical condition and possible removal of benefits.
5.What are supplemental benefits?
Supplemental benefits are amounts paid in addition to the basic awarded weekly workers’ compensation benefit rate to address changes in the cost of living. Calculated annually, these benefits are based upon the current maximum weekly workers’ compensation rate in relation to the percentage of your basic benefit rate to the maximum rate in effect at the time of your injury. Supplemental benefits are reduced for receipt of Social Security, Black Lung and/or employer disability pension benefits and are also subject to reduction for employment in cases of total and permanent disability.
6.Who is eligible for Supplemental Benefits or cost of living increases?
The statute allows that only totally and permanently disabled workers and dependents of deceased workers whose date of injury or, as the case may be, death occurred prior to January 1, 1980 may be eligible for supplemental benefits. Dependents of deceased workers may, in some cases, be eligible where the death of the worker occurred after 1979 but was directly and causally attributable to the injury resulting in total and permanent disability prior to 1980.
Contact Blair C. Lane, Sr., Attorney at Law at 856-354-7700 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options after an construction site injury or any other workplace accident or injury or any work-related injury. Blair Lane is a Cherry Hill, NJ Workers Compensation Lawyer serving individuals who are injured on the job. Serving clients in Cherry Hill, Marlton, Voorhees, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Westmont, Collingswood, Camden, Pennsauken, and all of Central and South Jersey including Camden County and Burlington County