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Cost increases outpace growth rate of workers' comp benefits

New Jersey workers who have been injured on the job may be interested in knowing what a reported decline in levels of workers' compensation benefits across the nation might indicate. A study released in October 2016 by the National Academy of Social Insurance shows that in 46 states, benefits as a percent of payroll declined between the years 2010 and 2014 while costs to employers continued to rise.

The report, entitled "Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs," is the 19th in an annual series of reports that provides comprehensive data of this nature. According to the chair of NASI's Study Panel on Workers' Compensation Data, the growth rate of costs associated with our country's first social insurance program nearly quintupled the growth rate of benefits during the time period under review.

Indications as to what this might mean appear inconclusive. Health care costs have reportedly risen over the past 30 years and as of 2014, more than half of workers' compensation spending in approximately 32 states is allocated to medical care. In view of these findings, NASI's workers' compensation senior research associate suggests that two factors might be at play. A number of changes in state laws that limit workers' access to benefits could be responsible for the decline as well as a possible drop in both the frequency of workplace injuries and the amount of time that is taken off work when an injury does occur.

Workers who have been injured may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney can often provide guidance throughout the process and can also be of assistance at a subsequent hearing if the claim is disputed or denied.

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