How to qualify for the Second Injury Fund in New Jersey.
The state of New Jersey established the Second Injury Fund (SIF), to be administered by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, in the 1920s in order to give employers incentives to hire disabled workers and reduce the financial burden on employers in covering injuries that were preexisting prior to the work-related accident. The Fund assumes the obligation of paying the injured worker, permanent-disability benefits after the expiration of the initial period in which the employer must pay the worker.
In order to qualify for SIF benefits, you must be totally and permanently disabled as a result of a combination of two events: (1) your work-related injury and (2) your pre-existing, permanent-partial disability. The second does not have to be a result of a work-related injury.
Keep in mind that SIF benefits are not paid in addition to your regular workers’ compensation benefits; this is merely a continuation of benefits after the regular ones have stopped. As long as you remain unemployed, and totally-and-permanently disabled, you can potentially receive benefits from the Second Injury Fund for the rest of your life. Benefits stop when the recipient dies—this means that it does not pay for funeral expenses or death benefits to the deceased worker’s dependents.
Very rarely can you work and still collect SIF benefits. If this happens, your benefit amount will be lowered by a percentage of the amount of wages you earn from your job. After 450 weeks, SIF benefits are available to you only if you can prove that: (1) you went through educational or physical rehabilitation as recommended by the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services; and (2) as a result of your disability, you can’t earn the same amount that you were earning at the time of your total and permanent injury.
Once you start working again, you must notify the Office of Special Compensation funds as soon as possible. If you don’t, then you are in danger of getting your benefits reduced or removed altogether.
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, contact experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney, Dan T. Matrafajlo. The first consultation is entirely confidential and free-of-charge.