LITTLE KNOWN GEM WITHIN WC SYSTEM
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist
If you have a pre-existing disability or handicap and, at a later date, sustain a work-related injury, there is a special fund available to injured workers that can provide additional monies to you that you would not otherwise receive from the industrial injury when considered by itself.
This fund, the Subsequent Injuries Benefit Trust Fund (SIBTF) will, if certain conditions are met, make payments to previously disabled or handicapped people who have at some later date sustained own industrial injury.
The SIBTF provides for these payments if the industrial permanent disability and pre-existing disability factors reach a certain threshold – that is a permanent disability of 70 percent or more. However, this is not the only criteria. One of two other conditions must be met:
(1) The first disability must have affected an arm, hand, leg, foot or eye and the second injury must have affected the other (“opposite”) arm, hand, leg, foot or eye and must have a standard permanent disability rating of five (5) percent or higher;
(2) The standard permanent disability rating from the industrial injury must be at least 35 percent.
Payment from other sources can be deducted from the award/recovery against SIBTF, but this still can mean hundreds to thousands of dollars of additional benefits for the injured employee.
While it is impossible to give every example of how this fund would work, consider a hypothetical situation involving a worker that is blind in one eye prior to his/her industrial injury. As a result of a tragic work injury, the worker loses sight in the other eye. Clearly, the second injury on the job is much more significant than just losing his/her vision in one eye as this person is now totally blind. If that worker were to be compensated only for the loss of one eye since the lost eyesight in the other eye pre-existed the industrial injury, it would be potentially thousands of dollars less than what the recovery would be if the worker were to be compensated now that they are totally blind, with the SIBTF providing payments to help make up the difference between the compensation payable for the loss of one eye and the compensation for being blind in both eyes (100% totally permanently disabled).