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NY State Workers’ Comp Reforms Barely Scratch Surface of Broken System

New York workers trying to secure compensation after being injured on the job face a daunting prospect: they must navigate the adversarial, time-consuming, and seemingly unfair workers’ comp system.  Even worse, recent reforms touted by authorities as the solution to the myriad of problems with the system barely scratch the surface.

 

Issues with the current system are many, and according to reporters investigating the problems include political appointees without medical backgrounds making claims decisions, judges so overwhelmed with cases that they don’t give each claim the time it deserves, excessive wait times for a hearing, even longer wait times for appeals, and much more.

 

While the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board contends that reforms enacted in 2007 are having measurable effects today, reporters at The New York Times contend that any gains are minimal in the face of overwhelming problems.  And some changes – like allowing possibly unqualified claims examiners to review cases instead of judges in order to save time – may be doing workers an even greater disservice.

 

Throw known problems with employer fraud into this mess and it is clear that the Board has a long way to go solving the many problems faced by injured workers.  While worker fraud is sometimes an issue, more often than not employers are the ones cheating the system.  It isn’t uncommon for employers to misreport the number of employees they have working in order to save money on premiums or to underpay their premiums.  Any effort at reform is going to have to be dramatic and far-reaching to really make a difference to New York’s working men and women.

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