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Separate reports note workers' comp coverage problems

According to both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and ProPublica, worker benefits for job-related injuries and illnesses are creating difficult situations for families across the country. Illinois is one of the states that has seen slight increases in workers' compensation benefits in recent years, but at least 30 states are dealing with moderate to severe cuts. The reports from OSHA and ProPublica were issued in March 2015, and both point to the concern that a pattern of cuts creates for families needing to compensate for lost income and medical expenses.

The independent investigations point to the fact that an average of only 20 percent of the total financial burden of work-related medical issues is covered through workers' compensation, noting that the benefits are reduced with greater hurdles as an individual initiates a claim. Additionally, the reports highlight the fact that although businesses cite high costs, the premiums owed by companies as they purchase coverage for their workers are at a nearly 40-year low. Taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the financial burden related to lost wages and medical expenses.

An OSHA representative has noted that employers might be more motivated to emphasize safety and preventive measures if they shouldered a more realistic share of the workers' comp expenses. However, workers are viewed as currently subsidizing unsafe employment situations and practices as they deal with reduced earning abilities connected with injuries and illnesses suffered on the job.

Although Illinois benefits have increased, an individual might encounter a situation in which a claim is not fully covered or is denied. If there is a problem in obtaining one's benefits, a workers' compensation lawyer may be helpful in organizing medical information and defending a claim.

Source: ProPublica, "Workers' compensation reforms by state", Yue Qiu and Michael Grabell, March 4, 2015

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