Capitol Alert: California's workers compensation benefits among lowest

04/30/2014 11:17 AM

04/30/2014 11:27 AM

California workers who suffer permanent, job-related injuries and illnesses are entitled to workers compensation payments that are among the lowest in the nation, an exhaustive state-by-state comparison reveals.

The voluminous report on state (and Canadian province) workers compensation benefits was issued Wednesday by the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions.

While the report covers all cash, medical and therapy benefits, the disparity between California and other states in "permanent partial" disabilities is particularly evident and could fuel the Capitol's perennial political jousting over workers compensation costs and benefits.

The debate almost always focuses on the "permanent partial" aspect of the multi-billion-dollar, employer-financed program because it is the most prevalent and cumulatively most expensive of the various benefits.

Roughly once a decade, the Legislature overhauls the multi-billion-dollar system, and it last occurred in 2012 as employers and labor unions combined forces. The 2012 bill raised cash benefits but tightened other aspects of the program enough to offset the cost of the benefit increase.

Even so, it set a $290 per week maximum (as of this year) for workers deemed to have "permanent partial" disabilities in California. The new report indicates that it's lower than those of all but two other states, Alabama and Rhode Island.

"Permanent partial" benefits are as high as $1,441.80 per week in Washington, D.C., and $1,419 in Iowa.

The report is available only by purchase here.

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