Torrey: 50th Anniversary of National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 | 0
The year 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 publication of the Report of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws.
That report condemned the current status of compensation laws (limited coverages, poverty-level rates) as a national disgrace and set forth, among other things, 19 essential recommendations for a modern law. Prof. John F. Burton Jr., chairman of the commission, features the commission’s report on his website.
On this blog we will, over the ensuing months, be commenting about the national commission and its report.
The commission, in that report, expected states to follow the 19 essential recommendations, lest Congress consider enforcement of the same, in some manner, on the federal level.
Here, in summary, are the 19 essential recommendations:
- That coverage by workers' compensation laws is compulsory and that no waivers be permitted.
- That employers aren't exempted from workers' compensation coverage because of the number of their employees.
- A two-stage approach to the coverage of farmworkers. First, as of July 1, 1973, each agriculture employer who has an annual payroll that in total exceeds $1,000 is required to provide workers' compensation coverage to all of his employees. As a second stage, as of July 1, 1975, farmworkers are covered on the same basis as all other employees.
- That as of July 1, 1975, household workers and all casual workers are covered under workers' compensation at least to the extent they are covered by Social Security.
- That workers' compensation is mandatory for all government employees.
- That there are no exemptions for any class of employees, such as professional athletes or employees of charitable organizations.
- That an employee or his survivor is given the choice of filing a workers' compensation claim in the state where the injury or death occurred, or where the employment was principally localized, or where the employee was hired.
- That all states provide full coverage for work-related diseases.
- That, subject to the state’s maximum weekly benefit, temporary total disability benefits are at least 66 2/3% of the worker’s gross weekly wage.
- That as of July 1, 1973, the maximum weekly benefit for temporary total disability is at least 66 2/3% of the state’s average weekly wage, and that as of July 1, 1975, the maximum is at least 100% of the state’s average weekly wage.
- That the definition of permanent total disability used in most states is retained. However, in those few states that permit the payment of permanent total disability benefits to workers who retain substantial earning capacity, that benefit proposals be applicable only to those cases that meet the test of permanent total disability used in most states.
- That, subject to the state’s maximum weekly benefit, permanent total disability benefits are at least 66 2/3% of the worker’s gross weekly wage.
- That as of July 1, 1973, the maximum weekly benefit for permanent total disability is at least 66 2/3% of the state’s average weekly wage, and that as of July 1, 1975, the maximum is at least 100% of the state’s average weekly wage.
- That total disability benefits are paid for the duration of the worker’s disability, or for life, without any limitations as to dollar amount of time.
- That, subject to the state’s maximum weekly benefit, death benefits are at least 66 2/3% of the worker’s gross weekly wage.
- That as of July 1, 1973, the maximum weekly death benefit is at least 66 2/3% percent of the state’s average weekly wage, and that as of July 1, 1975, the maximum is at least 100% of the state’s average weekly wage.
- That death benefits are paid to a widow or widower for life or until remarriage; that in the event of remarriage, two years’ benefits are paid in a lump sum to the widow or widower; that benefits for a dependent child are continued at least until the child reaches 18, or beyond such age if actually dependent; or at least until age 25 if the child is enrolled as a full-time student in any accredited educational institution.
- That there are no statutory limits of time or dollar amount for medical care or physical rehabilitation services for any work-related impairment.
- That the right to medical and physical rehabilitation benefits do not terminate by the mere passage of time.
David B. Torrey is adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a workers’ compensation judge with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. This entry is republished from the Workers' Compensation Law Professors blog, with permission.