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The First Annual “Safety Net” report – as required by the 2007 NY Workers Compensation Reforms

 The NYS Department of Labor on Debcember 1, 2008 released the First Annual Safety Net Report of the Commisioner pursuant to Section 35(4) of the Workers Compensation Law, Chapter 6 of the Laws of 2007 – known as the 2007 Workers Compensation Reform.

This report deals with the unfortunate situation created by the 2007 Reforms where individuals with permanent partial disabilities will be limited in the amount of benefits they can receive ("caps"). The overreaching concern is what happens to a person with a permanent partial disability who is unable to return to gainful employment, but their weekly benefits have been cut off (medical benefits are generally ongoing in these situations).

Since the law is so recent there has not been enough data to really assess what effect the new law has had on individual permanently partially disabled workers. As noted in the body of the report:

This Safety Net Report presents the data requested by the statute, but is is too early to determine the impact of the new law on the outcomes of injured workers. Clearly, however, the new statutory reforms and caps on the duration of PPD benefits necessitate more extensive reserach on the ability of injured workers to return to work and remain employed…

The report goes on to list "Time of the Essence" measures that must be put into place to minimize the number of injured workers who cannot return to work –

  • a new study (within 90 days!) regarding long-term return to work outcomes; and
  • continued implementation by the Deptartment of Labor and the New York State Workers Compensation Board of policies, procedures and statutory and regulatory changes to improve the return to work rates of injured workers

Stay tuned for more…