How Trump May Affect Workers’ Compensation In Colorado

How Trump May Affect Workers’ Compensation In Colorado

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Workers Compensation Blog

The new Trump administration has ushered in some changes that many Americans weren’t quite prepared for, and much of the impact is not yet fully known. After all, he’s only been in office for a little over four months, and many changes are yet to come. With respect to workers’ compensation (work comp) benefits, the potential effect has not been fully realized. However, it appears that the greatest potential impact will come from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and budget cuts.

Healthcare Reform

In Colorado and many other states, the ACA, more popularly called Obamacare, has generated a favorable trend in work comp claims. Claim rates and costs have been dropping, and this movement is very likely due to increased worker access to healthcare. In its 2016 report, the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research identified a strong correlation between the decreased work comp claims and costs and the uptick in health insurance coverage.

Joe Paduda of Health Strategy Associates delves even deeper into the link between Obamacare and work comp claims. He alleges that workers who are hurt on the job have less reason to pursue care through their employer’s work comp insurance if they have their own health insurance.

Further, other health issues that may impact their work injury can be covered by the worker’s insurance, rather than work comp. For example, an employee with high blood pressure would need additional treatment for his hypertension before he could undergo a necessary work-related surgical procedure. However, when the worker has health insurance, his coverage would bear the additional cost, rather than work comp.

The proposed repeal and replacement efforts of Trump and the Republican-led House has thrown millions into uncertainty with respect to healthcare coverage. The most recent version of the new TrumpCare coverage, the AHCA, has the potential to take away health insurance from 14 million Americans by next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. And the number of insured is expected to continue increasing over the next 9 years.

These dire projections could spell big trouble for work comp. Uninsured workers would likely once again turn to work comp for as much medical coverage as possible. These changes would also disproportionally affect older employees, workers in higher risk jobs and many who currently receive coverage through Medicaid. These issues will equate to increased claims and higher costs.

Budget Cuts and Safety Issues

Trump has also proposed budget cuts and safety reform rollbacks that will have adverse effects on the work comp system. While the Obama administration was moving towards establishing minimum workers’ compensation benefit standards on the state level, the Trump administration has expressed no interest in pursuing these reforms.

Repeal of an Obama-era OSHA safety regulation could have a detrimental impact on injured workers, as well. The “Volks” rule requires dangerous industry employers to keep health and safety incident records for five-and-a-half years. But Congress changed that to just six months, and Trump signed off. This minimum record-keeping requirement may prevent identification of frequent and repeated safety issues with many companies, and make it much more difficult for their employees to obtain work comp benefits when injured.

If a disabled worker is receiving both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and work comp benefits, the total may not exceed 80 percent of the average earnings that the worker was receiving before he became disabled. It they do, the SSDI benefits are reduced to offset the overage. In 15 states, this works in the reverse. Instead, it is the work comp benefits that are offset. On May 23, Trump released information on his most recent budget plan with proposed cuts. The Workers’ Compensation Reverse Offset faces elimination in 15 states, of which Colorado is one. With this change, work comp will need to make up the shortfall that the government has been covering via SSDI, hence, raising costs.

Overall, it appears that the Trump administration will be bad news for work comp in Colorado, and throughout the nation. And that’s only addressing what we know so far. If you have questions about these pending changes, or other workers’ compensation issues, please contact us for answers.

 

 

Sources

Kalin: Obamacare has had an impact on workers’ compensation claims in Colorado

AHCA, CBO, and Workers’ Comp

Four Ways the New Administration Will Influence Workers’ Comp

http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/15517-trump-signs-resolution-to-strike-down-volks-recordkeeping-rule

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/05/23/here-list-agencies-and-programs-trump-budget-would-defund-entirely/DMRzbdY4lwB0XEGA13Y6PP/story.html

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

colorado gun laws Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation gun laws Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

In February 2017, the House of Representatives voted to “overturn an Obama administration rule” that required the Social Security Administration to “forward the names of all Social Security Disability Insurance . . . benefit recipients who use a representative payee . . . to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System . . ..

Reaction sadly was over-the-top and exaggerated as some gun safety advocates characterized the vote as the House permitting “severely mentally ill” people from getting guns and will make Americans less safe.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

The Obama Administration required the Social Security Administration to send the records of Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipients who need a representative payee to the FBI for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  This meant these particular SSDI or SSI recipients were deprived of their right to purchase a firearm.

What’s a Representative Payee?

Individuals are required to have a representative payee for mental impairments when a beneficiary is “legally incompetent or mentally incapable of managing benefit payments.”  An injured and disabled worker who has difficulties remembering deadlines, properly doing math, or any other significant inability to spend their SSDI benefit properly may be required to have a representative payee even if his or her disability has nothing to do with a mental impairment.

Having a Representative Payee does not mean that your inability to mange finances is because a disabled worker is violent, or poses a risk to themselves or to others.

Because of the myriad of impairments that could require a representative payee, even the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) spoke out against the rule, saying “A disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic per se denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership.”  Republican House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte opposed the rule because “it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush.”

Congress has now revoked that rule.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Because of this vote, if you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, SSDI or SSI, and have the need for a Representative Payee – the Social Security Administration will no longer automatically report you to the NICS.

Have Questions?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process is not always easy.  Circumstances are always changing, and we are happy to answer questions and help navigate the process.  Email – Tre Eyden, EDPNA, or call 970-356-9898.

The Federal Government Shutdown and Social Security

Social Security Blog

Due to the Federal Government Shutdown which began today, the Social Security Administration has made available its plan for operating during the shutdown. Out of SSA’s 62,343 employees, 18,006 will be furloughed. Most of the furloughed employees work in SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The ODAR offices plan to proceed with the hearings which are already scheduled but they are currently not scheduling any new hearing. I spoke to a staff person at an ODAR office this morning and she said that she was the only support staff working there with the Administrative Law Judges and she had just been answering the phone all morning and had not had a chance to do any other work. An Administrative Law Judges even called me today to confirm a schedule change!

According to the Social Security Administration’s website, the SSA field offices can:

  • Help you apply for benefits
  • Assist you in requesting an appeal
  • Change your address or direct deposit information
  • Accept reports of death
  • Verify or change your citizenship status
  • Replace a lost or missing Social Security payment
  • Issue a critical payment
  • Change a representative payee
  • Process a change in your living arrangement or income (SSI recipients only)
  • The SSA field offices cannot:
  • Issue new or replacement Social Security cards
  • Replace your Medicare card
  • Issue a proof of income letter

Additional information about Social Security’s operating plan can be found here.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep updating our information.