Schemery Zicolello

State budget cuts concern those receiving workers' compensation

When Pennsylvania employees go to work, there are laws that protect them and provide certain safety standards for employers to follow. If these standards are not met and an employee is injured on the job, that employee may be eligible for workers' compensation.

Workers' compensation benefits can include lost wage benefits, medical expenses and death benefits. These benefits could be temporary or permanent -- if there is a permanent disability.

Those workers who are entitled to workers' compensation benefits have a lot of things to worry about. Not only are they injured, sometimes left with a permanent disability after their workplace accident, but they must also deal with the often difficult and time-consuming process of applying for compensation benefits.

Some organizations, known as home-care providers, are available to help these people with certain administrative tasks such as helping them pay taxes and workers' compensation insurance.

However, under the proposed Pennsylvania budget cuts, these home-care providers are at great risk. Under the proposal, the current 37 providers in Pennsylvania would be consolidated to just three. Each of these three providers would then be responsible for a specific region of the state.

Proponents of the plan argue that it is necessary to cut costs. However, opponents argue that service to the disabled will suffer because of these measures.

As these programs face cuts and consolidation, it is even more important for those workers who have been disabled at work to seek professional help in obtaining workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation claims can be difficult and have certain deadlines that must be met in order to qualify. Without help, these people may miss out on opportunities to get the compensation they often deserve.

Source: Williamsport Sun Gazette, "State budget changes could affect home-care providers, clients," Alyssa Murphy, May 1, 2012

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