Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced that the Legislature and Governor Spitzer have reached an agreement to reform New York States workers compensation system a move that increases benefits for injured workers and reduces costs for employers by 10 to 15 percent. This bi-partisan accord is a victory for both small businesses and working families.
We have one of the most expensive systems in the nation that gives low benefits and requires high premiums, said Lupardo. This is the exact type of compromise I had hoped we would be able to achieve on issues that have languished over the years.
Under the new agreement, the maximum benefit rate for injured workers is increased over a four-year period from $400 to two-thirds of the average weekly wage in New York. In year 1, the rate is raised to $500; in year 2, to $550; and in year 3, to $600. In year 4, the rate will be indexed to the average weekly wage. In addition, the minimum weekly benefit will increase from $40 to $100.
The agreement will also provide hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings by:
- setting the maximum number of years that a small population of claimants can receive cash benefits. Medical services will continue, however, and a safety net will be established to help get these workers to return to gainful employment and to intervene in cases of extreme hardship;
- creating innovative programs to get workers prompt medical treatment and to help them return to gainful employment; and,
- creating strong anti-fraud measures, including the ability to stop work on a job site where a company has failed to purchase workers compensation insurance for its workers and higher criminal penalties for violators.
For the first time in more than a decade, workers will see benefits raised and businesses will be able to keep insurance costs down, said Lupardo. This will help make our state more competitive, while providing necessary assistance to injured workers and their families as well,