There are 1,381 Missouri disabled workers on a waiting list to receive benefits for workplace illnesses or injuries for claims that are more than a year-and-a-half old. An additional 30,991 claims still need to be processed and resolved as well. It was in response to this situation that Missouri’s Governor Nixon placed his signature upon legislation that would increase charges to businesses in order that this fund could again become solvent.
In addition to correcting the funding problem, the new legislation would also allow more workers to be receiving workers’ compensation for job-related illnesses. Workers’ compensation will now pay benefits for more work-related illnesses than was covered under past Missouri law. However, it may still be some time before the new laws take effect and workers will receive their benefits.
The new law will provide additional benefits for what is known as toxic-exposure illness. For asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, coverage could either come through Missouri’s workers’ compensation system or through a special risk pool set up for these victims. These workers could either accept an enhanced benefit of $500,000 for the asbestos-related illness or decide to take the matter to court.
Although the new laws will hopefully provide a remedy to the unacceptable delays in payment of benefits to injured or sickened workers, the new laws will likely also add a layer of complexity to the process of disabled workers getting paid. Any worker that has a question regarding the new laws could probably benefit by speaking to attorneys experienced in dealing with workplace injury or illness matters.
Source: Insurance Journal, “Missouri Governor Signs Bill Replenishing Disabled Workers Fund,” David A. Lieb, July 12, 2013