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State Assembly considering bill to extend timeframe for temporary disability benefits

In workers' compensation defense news, the California State Assembly is currently weighing a controversial measure concerning the extension of temporary disability benefits.

Specifically, much of the Assembly dialogue is now focused on Assembly Bill 947 (AB 947), a measure that would extend temporary disability payments for work-related injuries from a maximum of 104 weeks within five years to a maximum of 240 weeks within five years.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), the Assembly has defined the purpose of AB 947 as follows:

"[T]o address circumstances where medical treatment that is required to cure the injured worker's injuries takes longer, through no fault of the injured worker, than the 104 weeks of TD benefits allowed by law"

In other words, AB 947 is designed to fill the gap for those injured workers who are not fully healed and ready to return to work at the end of 104 weeks, but who are not yet ready to go on permanent disability either.

Recently, the state Senate Appropriations Committee released an analysis of AB 947, finding that it would cost California employers $210 million more in temporary disability benefits.

The Assembly Insurance Committee, headed by Rep. Solorio, has since come forward to dispute this analysis, stating that the Appropriations Committee drastically overstated the cost of AB 947 by assuming that every injured worker would use 240 weeks.

Not surprisingly, the bill is already encountering widespread opposition from both California employers and business groups.

"AB 947 adds huge new payroll costs for private and public employers in California at the same time our 12 percent unemployment rate remains among the highest in the nation, and government is struggling to protect public services," said Thomas Vu, an official with the California Chamber of Commerce. "Workers' compensation costs per claim have increased by 60 percent in recent years driven partly by growth in (temporary disability) benefit payments."

The debate over AB 947 will likely endure for quite some time ...

Stay tuned for further developments on this workers' compensation defense story ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

The Orange County Register "Analyst: Bill would up Calif. workers' comp costs" Aug. 18, 2011

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