JEFFERSON CITY - Thousands of Missouri workers see reduced state benefits if Missouri lawmakers pass a bill moving through the Senate about the troubled Second Injury Fund.
But bill supporters said that without a solution, Missouri workers might not see any money at all. As of Jan. 1, 282 permantly and totally disabled workers haven't recieved Second Injury Fund benefits said Richard Moore, Century Link Legislative Affairs Manager.
The Second Injury Fund pays benefits to Missouri workers who have a preexisting condition and then sustain a second injury while at work
Those benefits are paid for by the state's businesses as part of their workers compensation insurance. But the fund now has more benefit claims coming in then there is money to give out.
As of Jan. 1, the Second Injury Fund was $28 million in debt and 30,000 workers compensation cases are still pending, according to the state Attorney General's office.
A law passed in 2005 capped the amount employees pay into the Second Injury fund at three percent of their workers compensation premium.
Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles, sponsor of this year's legislation to reform the Second Injury Fund, said the capped rate is a big reason why the the fund is in debt.
A recent lawsuit was heard in the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Court against the state treasurer and is now to referred to the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Futher complicating matters, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like to reintroduce the term "occupational disease" in the bill as was done in previous similar bills. Occupational disease was defined as an identifiable disease caused by employment with or without human fault.
"If we had the economy of 2005 we wouldn't be here." said Rupp and that the recession has created a "perfect storm" for the Second Injury Fund.