STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION
Assemblyman JOHN J. BURZICHELLI
District 3 (Salem, Cumberland and Gloucester)
Assemblyman GORDON M. JOHNSON
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman JOAN M. QUIGLEY
District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)
Concerns certain workers' compensation supplemental benefits.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel
An Act concerning workers' compensation benefits and supplementing chapter 15 of Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. Beginning with the fiscal year 2007, commencing July 1, 2006, and each fiscal year thereafter, a person who is an employee, or a dependent of the employee, who is initially awarded weekly benefits pursuant to subsection (b) of R.S.34:15-12, R.S.34:15-13, or R.S.34:15-95 for a disability or death that occurred after December 31, 1979, and who is not entitled to receive special adjustment benefits pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1980, c.83 (C.34:15-95.4), shall be entitled to receive weekly supplemental benefits from the Second Injury Fund during the period in which the person is eligible to receive the initially-awarded weekly benefits, whenever the amount of the initially-awarded weekly benefits is less than the total amount of weekly benefits that would be payable to the person if that total amount included weekly supplemental benefits calculated in the manner indicated in subsection b. of this section.
b. The amount of the weekly supplemental benefits paid pursuant to this section during each fiscal year shall be calculated in a manner so that when it is added to the workers' compensation weekly benefits initially awarded, the sum of the initial award and the weekly supplemental benefits shall bear the same percentage relationship to the maximum workers' compensation rate for the current fiscal year that the person's initial compensation bore to the maximum workers' compensation rate in effect at the time that the initial compensation was awarded, except that the amount of the weekly supplemental benefits paid pursuant to this section shall be reduced if necessary, and as much as is needed, to ensure that the sum of the weekly supplemental benefits and the workers' compensation initially awarded does not, with respect to any particular case, exceed the amount which would cause any reduction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 424a of disability benefits payable under the Federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Act.
c. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, weekly supplemental benefits paid pursuant to this section shall not be paid in a manner which in any way changes or modifies the provisions of sections 1 or 9 of P.L.1980, c.83 (C.34:15-95.4 and 34:15-95.5).
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill provides, from July 1, 2006 forward, an annual cost of living adjustment in the weekly workers' compensation benefit rate for any worker who has become totally and permanently disabled from a workplace injury at any time after December 31, 1979 and for the surviving dependents of workers who have died from a workplace injury at any time after December 31, 1979.
The cost of living adjustment would be an amount such that, when added to the workers' compensation weekly benefit rate initially awarded, the sum will bear the same percentage relationship to the maximum benefit rate at the time of the adjustment that the initial rate bore to the maximum rate at the time of the initial award, except that the amount of the adjustment shall be reduced as much as necessary to ensure that the sum of the adjustment and the amount initially awarded does not exceed the amount which would cause any reduction of disability benefits payable under the Federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Act. The amount of the adjustment would be paid from the Second Injury Fund (SIF).
Current law requires such annual adjustments in the rate of workers' compensation benefits for death and permanent total disability to be paid from the SIF, but only in cases in which the injury or death occurred before January 1, 1980. The bill extends the adjustments to cases originating after December 31, 1979, although the adjustments would apply only to benefits paid on those claims after July 1, 2006.
The bill makes no change in the provisions of sections 1 and 9 of P.L.1980, c.83 (C.34:15-94.4 and 34:15-94.5), which provide for the reduction of certain portions of workers' compensation benefits by the amount of Social Security disability benefits paid. In addition, the bill expressly states that the supplemental benefits shall not be paid in a manner which in any way changes or modifies the provisions of those sections. The bill, therefore, will have no effect on existing provisions of State and federal law regarding offsets between workers' compensation and federal Social Security disability benefits.