SLU PPD Benefits 85 Percent Threshold (S.4554/A.6218)

Date: 2017

S.4554 (Amedore)

A.6218 (McDonald)

MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT

Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York, supports this legislation.

This legislation is intended to equitably distribute workers compensation benefits to workers who suffer permanent partial disability.

High Workers’ Compensation costs present a significant hardship to New York employers and continue to escalate. This past year alone, the basis for Workers’ Compensation costs increased over 9 percent, continuing a near decade of increases and in some cases premiums increased by almost forty percent.

One of the primary drivers of the state’s high Workers’ Compensation costs are injuries subject to Scheduled Loss of Use awards. Injuries to extremities for example, which are subject to SLU awards, base benefits on a multiplier of statutorily designated weeks, type of injury and declared severity, rather than lost work time. New York State’s schedule loss of use award system was created more than 100 years ago. In that time, there have been tremendous advances in the medical field. Injuries that used to take years to treat can now be treated in significantly less time thanks to medical and scientific advancement.

This legislation will appropriately calibrate the Schedule Loss of Use award system to reflect actual lost time from work in a modern economy by limiting SLU awards to the most severe injuries, guaranteeing that the most injured workers are justly compensated while those with less significant injuries resulting in little or no lost time from work will receive the exact same benefits as other workers with non-SLU classified injuries.

Unshackle Upstate and its partner chambers and associations recently conducted a survey of 211 employers that requested feedback on workers’ compensation costs; 83% of participants identified workers’ compensation costs as a significant concern, with many reporting average annual cost increases of ten and twenty two percent over a five year period.

According to the 2016 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary, a national study conducted by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services that puts individual states’ workers’ compensation rates on a comparable basis, New York State employers pay the third highest workers’ compensation premium rate in the United States; New York ranked 19th in 2008 and 13th in 2010.

The growing cost of Workers’ Compensation coverage is one of the biggest business and competitiveness concerns facing New York’s employers. These immense costs impact all New York employers including for-profits, non-profits, schools, municipalities and state government, placing additional burdens on taxpayers.

For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate supports the enactment of this legislation.