The lack of correspondence between work-related disability and receipt of workers' compensation benefits

Authors

  • Emily A. Spieler JD,

    1. School of Law, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
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    • Dean and Professor.

  • John F. Burton Jr. LLB, PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, Princeton, New Jersey
    • Professor Emeritus, Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, 56 Primrose Circle, Princeton, NJ 08540.
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Background

Previous studies suggest that many persons with disabilities caused by work do not receive workers' compensation benefits.

Methods

Data from surveys of persons with disabilities were used to estimate the proportion of disability due to work-related injuries and diseases. Studies examining the proportion of workers with work-related disability who received workers' compensation benefits were reviewed. Legal and other factors explaining the lack of receipt of workers' compensation benefits were examined.

Results

Many workers with disabilities caused by work do not receive workers' compensation benefits. The obstacles to compensation include increasingly restrictive rules for compensability in many state workers' compensation programs.

Conclusions

A substantial proportion of persons with work-related disabilities do not receive workers' compensation benefits. The solutions to this problem, such as providing healthcare to workers regardless of the source of injuries or diseases, are complicated and controversial, and will be difficult to implement. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:487–505, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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