The 2015 Annual Report from the State of Alaska Division or Workers Compensation shows what a big business workers compensation claims are and insurance companies’ trends to improve their profits. The full report is accessible on the Division’s website at: http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/forms/2015AR.pdf
In 2015, payments made to injured workers during the reemployment process (“41k”) were down .4 million dollars. Employee evaluations were down .9 million. Plan developments were down .03 million. And job dislocation benefits were up 1.7 million.
Why the push for job dislocation benefits when at first look it seems the insurance companies are spending more money on those benefits than they would have had they retrained the Employee? The insurance companies are playing the long game in reemployment for two reasons:
First, reemployment can last for up to two years. Spending a little extra in the first year on job dislocation benefits will result in a savings the following year in retraining costs that weren’t paid.
Second, Employees only get reemployment or job dislocation benefits once in their life. By offering a few thousand to an Employee instead of retraining, when he is broke and needs it most, the insurance companies have insured that Employee will never be able to ask for reemployment benefits again. Ultimately, years down the line the savings will be huge.
There has been at least one recent important development in the law of reemployment: the job description which is used when evaluating an Employee’s ability to return to work in the job he was performing when injured. It used to be the Reemployment Benefits Administrator would pick one job description even if that description did not encompass all of the Employee’s duties. That is now against the law, they must consider more than one job description if that better fits the job that the Employee was doing. This difference can be crucial in whether or not an Employee received retraining or job dislocation benefits.
Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for over 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans handling hundreds of cases. www.keenanpowell.com.
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