NY’s Workers’ Comp Benefits Contributing To Staffing Shortages, Fraud
New York offers a decent workers’ compensation program for those who are injured in the workplace, but is it too good? The state inspector general says that the lost wage benefits available to corrections officers are motivating them to engage in fraud.
The state inspector general compiled information about the benefits into a report. The report followed hundreds of complaints accusing corrections officers of abusing the lost wage benefits.
Correctional officers get a sweet deal if they suffer a workplace injury. Unlike other professions, they are under a contract. Under this contract, corrections officers may receive up to six months of full pay for an injury or illness. The pay comes from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The officers do not have to use leave time or any other disability pay.
Full pay for six months? This of course sounds very enticing, Those who are injured are enjoying this paid time off. And well, the problem is that those who aren’t injured may be enjoying it as well. It appears as though this generous time off package is leading to fraud, causing staffing shortages at prisons throughout New York.
Reports show that over a seven-year period, more than 30% of corrections officers at 10% of prisons had filed a workers’ compensation claim. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, nearly 1.8 million hours of staff time was lost due to workers’ compensation absences. This is an increase of more than 60% over a 10-year period, as well as a 9% increase compared to the previous year. Most of these claims were for injuries unrelated to contact with an inmate.
There is no end in sight to this issue. The inspector general found that eight prisons had at least 10% of their security staff on leave collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Three facilities had 17% of security staff on leave. Close to 70% of these were for injuries unrelated to contact with inmates.
The inspector general is working with various attorneys-in-charge to review the staffing crisis in the prisons and determine the extent of any potential fraud. They are aware of the volume of workers’ compensation abuse that has occurred in the state under the labor contract. They are doing their part to ferret out fraud and encourage anyone with information about fraud to contact them.
Of note is the fact that the unions representing state corrections officers are negotiating a new contract. The inspector general’s office is recommending that the lost wage benefit in the new contract be modified.
Contact Us for More Information About Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As a whole, it’s good for states to have good workers’ compensation coverage. However, anytime benefits are involved, there is a propensity for fraud.
When there’s a lot of fraud, it’s hard for those who are truly injured in the workplace to get the benefits they need. A White Plains workers’ compensation lawyer from The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon can guide you through the process with ease. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (914) 228-1770 or filling out the online form.