Workers’ compensation benefits have fallen in South Carolina and across the country, leading the Department of Labor to call for possible federal intervention in state workers’ compensation systems. The agency wants to investigate whether or not federal intervention is appropriate after a number of states have passed laws that make it more difficult for injured workers to get benefits.
Workers’ compensation was the country’s first social safety net program, and it has been in existence for more than 100 years. The Department of Labor released a report that indicated that injured workers are in danger of living in poverty because there are no federal minimum requirements for workers’ compensation benefits.
The report by the Department of Labor came after a series released by NPR and ProPublica highlighting the plights of injured workers. Some who were profiled had lost their homes. Others were denied prosthetics and surgery despite needing them for their injuries. The investigation could help to establish standards so that if state systems failed to meet them, then the federal government could intervene. Federal intervention and standards are opposed by insurance companies and employers.
People who are injured in workplace accidents may be left with permanent disabilities. Workers’ compensation is supposed to help by providing them with benefits to pay for their medical care and associated expenses as well as to provide them with cash benefits to replace their incomes if they are unable to return to work. When an injured worker’s application for workers’ compensation benefits is disputed or denied, he or she might want to get help from a workers’ compensation attorney. A lawyer may litigate his or her client’s matter in order to try to recover the benefits the client should be entitled to receive for the injury.