Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Statute Perpetrates Taxpayer Ripoff

greed2.jpgFlorida workers severely injured at work sometimes qualify for both workers’ compensation permanent total disability benefits (PTD) (F.S. 440.15(1)) and social security disability benefits (SSD) (42 U.S.C. s. 423).

The Florida workers’ compensation system, codified in Chapter 440 of Florida’s statutes, sets forth the responsibilities of employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies (E/C) to injured workers. Workers whose injuries permanently prevent them from being gainfully employed are entitled to receive 66-2/3% of their average weekly wage (AWW) (440.14) from employers/carriers until age 75. These same individuals sometimes also qualify for SSD, which includes a monthly payment, when they are similarly permanently unable to work. (SSD converts to Social Security Retirement benefits at full retirement age — 66 if born after 1942, 67 if born after 1960.) SSD is paid by taxpayers.

When the workers’ compensation and SSD payments combine to exceed 80% of the employee’s AWW, Florida Statute 440.15(9)(a) authorizes the employer/carrier, rather than the taxpayer, to reduce their payment until the combined figure hits the 80% line. This offset can be substantial, sometimes bringing the amount paid by the E/C for lost wages down to a nominal level.

I see no reason why the private sector rather than the taxpayers get this break. The injuries precipitating the payment of the disability benefits occurred in the line of work, justification enough for E/Cs to be primarily liable to their injured workers.

This example is another instance of power, influence, and greed prevailing over the interests of The People.

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