A bill expected to be introduced publicly by New Jersey Senate Democrats will put in place additional requirements for public employees to receive compensation for a worker disability. In order to grant workers’ compensation due to accidents, the bill is set to create additional stringent qualifications and also would form a joint management-labor board. In addition, people receiving the funds will have to go through medical examinations to prove they are not physically able to return to work.
What this means for New Jersey workers injured on the job are additional complexities in making a claim for workers’ compensation. Obtaining such benefits is already somewhat difficult under the current system, and additional changes to the law in no way promises that the system will be any easier to negotiate.
Typically, employees who receive normal disability receive about 40 percent of what they earn as salary with federal taxes removed. However, those who qualify for disability pension receive pay of about two-thirds of their salary without taxes removed.
The number of New Jersey workers receiving accidental disability pensions has increased during the last few years. About $91.5 million was awarded by the state in 2010 for accidental disability pensions, which was given to firefighters and police. That number is 35 percent more than it was in 2007. However, there is now dangers that the proposed legislation may make it more difficult for an injured worker to recover their disability pension benefits.
Supporters of the bill state that dollars going to accidental disability pensions should not be increased as this negatively affects others also dependent on the funding. However, opponents say the bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars per year because of the new medical exam requirement.
Source: NJ.com, “N.J. Lawmakers vow to address eligibility for public workers to receive accidental disability pension,” by Jarrett Renshaw, Nov. 16, 2011