Workers' Compensation Legislation Enacted in 1997

By Whittington, Glenn | Monthly Labor Review, January 1998 | Go to article overview

Workers' Compensation Legislation Enacted in 1997


Whittington, Glenn, Monthly Labor Review


New or revised legislation focused on dealing with fraud and providing premium discounts for employers who maintain a drug-free workplace

In workers' compensation legislation enacted last year, Georgia increased maximum weekly benefits for total disability from $300 to $325 and minimum weekly rates from $25 to $32, effective July 1, 1997. Also, maximum weekly benefits for temporary partial disability were increased from $192.50 to $216.67.

In North Dakota, the maximum weekly benefit for survivors was changed from $210 to the State average weekly wage at the time of death. The minimum weekly death benefit was changed from $105 to 60 percent of the State average weekly wage. Also, lump sums paid in addition to weekly death benefits were increased from $300 to $600 for a surviving spouse and from $100 to $200 for each dependent child.

In Oklahoma, benefits for a surviving spouse were increased from 50 percent to 70 percent of the wages the deceased was earning, while benefits for children, if there is no surviving spouse, were increased from 35 percent to 50 percent. The maximum weekly income benefits payable to all beneficiaries in case of death was increased from 75 percent to 100 percent of the average weekly wage the deceased was earning. In addition, the length of time benefits will be received for loss of an eye was increased from 200 weeks to 250 weeks.

Maximum burial allowances were increased to $4,300 in Kansas, to $6,000 in Nebraska, and to $5,000 in North Dakota.

Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia now provide premium discounts for employers who maintain a drug-free workplace, while Georgia increased the size of its premium discount

Provisions for dealing with fraud were established or expanded in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, and North Dakota.

Workers' compensation coverage was extended to students engaged in a school-to-work program in Iowa and Montana, while Montana and New Hampshire expanded the definition of an employee to include a person working as a result of a public assistance program.

Following is a summary of significant workers' compensation enacted during 1997 by each State.

Alaska

Conditions for denying benefits to an employee making a false statement were clarified to require that the statement must have been made in writing in response to a medical inquiry or examination after a conditional offer of employment. Previously, benefits could be denied for false statements made on the employment application or preemployment questionnaire.

Participants in the Alaska temporary assistance program who are engaged in certain work activities are excluded from workers' compensation coverage.

Arizona

Employers may now secure workers' compensation coverage for their employees through self-insurance pools approved by the State Industrial Commission. Criteria for establishing such pools were formulated and enacted.

Arkansas

A dollar-for-dollar offset provision for retirement and pension payments against permanent total disability benefits for claim ants aged 65 and older was repealed, while the same provision for those receiving permanent partial disability benefits was reduced to 50 percent. Compensation payments for certain scheduled permanent injuries were increased.

The sunset provision that was to have become effective March 1, 1997, for the impairment rating guide adopted by the Workers' Compensation Commission was repealed and made subject to review by the General Assembly before April 1 of every odd-numbered year, beginning with the regular 1999 session.

A qualified real estate agent or "licensee" is now exempt from workers' compensation coverage.

All 2-year and 4-year public institutions of higher education are now required to provide workers' compensation coverage for their employees, according to specific methods and criteria. …

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