SB 1 - This act modifies the law relating to the Second Injury Fund.
This act allows the Director of Revenue to set the interest, with respect to workers' compensation matters, to equal the adjusted prime rate charged by banks in certain instances.
Currently, in workers' compensation cases an employee shall submit to reasonable medical examination at the request of the employer, the employer's insurer, the commission, the division, or an administrative law judge. This act requires the same treatment in claims against the Second Injury Fund at the request of the Attorney General, on behalf of the fund if the employer has not obtained a medical examination report.
Claims for permanent partial disability shall not be allowed against the Second Injury Fund after the effective date of the act. Claims for permanent total disability shall only be allowed going forward for instances when:
• there exists a medically documented preexisting permanent disability caused by military duty or a preexisting permanent partial disability,
• the preexisting disability equals a minimum of 50 weeks of compensation according to the medical standards that are used in determining compensation, and
• a subsequent work-related injury occurs and, when combined with the elements of the prior injury, results in permanent total disability.
Employers at the time of the last injury are only liable for the disability resulting from the subsequent injury.
The act places limitations on when the Treasurer may enter agreed statements of fact and compromise settlements. Settlements are capped at $60,000 for claims other than permanent total disability claims filed prior to the effective date of the act and capped at 200 times the employee's permanent total disability rate for all permanent total disability claims. Settlements may be made in any amount if a majority of the Second Injury Fund commission expressly authorizes the amount.
The Treasurer, with the advice and consent of the Attorney General and the authorization of the Second Injury Fund Commission, may enter into compromise settlements with dependents of claimants arising from the Schoemehl v. Treasurer decision.
Currently, the Second Injury Fund covers the fair, reasonable, and necessary expenses relating to the death and injury of employees of uninsured employers. The fund will no longer cover those costs going forward.
Currently, an actuarial study of the fund is conducted ever 3 years. This act requires a yearly study beginning in 2014.
Compensation shall not be payable from the Second Injury Fund when employees elect to pursue workers' compensation outside of the state.
Life payments paid out of the Second Injury Fund shall be suspended for all injured employees when the employee is able to obtain suitable gainful employment or be self-employed in view of the nature and severity of the injury. Life payments paid out of the Second Injury Fund may be suspended for any injured employee when the employee becomes eligible to receive Social Security benefits. The combined sum of the amount of monthly payments from the Second Injury Fund and monthly Social Security benefits shall not be less than the life payments otherwise payable out of the Second Injury Fund.
The act establishes a priority for paying fund liabilities as follows:
1. Expenses relating to legal defense of the fund.
2. Permanent total disability awards in the order in which they are settled or finally adjudicated.
3. Permanent partial disability awards in the order in which they are settled or finally adjudicated.
4. Medical expenses incurred prior to July 1, 2012.
5. Interest on unpaid awards.
Currently, a 2% tax is levied on insurance carriers when the balance of the workers' compensation fund is estimated to be on hand on December 31 is less than 110% of the previous year's expenses. This act requires that amount to actually be on hand on July 1 of the year of the determination which shall be made on October 31.
The act repeals a provision allowing loans to be made to the Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance Company.
The act institutes a funding mechanism to bolster the Second Injury Fund when usual collections are inadequate. If funds fall short, the Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation shall determine the shortfall which shall be collected with a supplemental surcharge not to exceed 1 1/2%. If funds continue to fall short, the Second Injury Fund Commission shall determine the shortfall which shall be collected with a supplemental surcharge not to exceed 1 1/2%. The provisions containing the authorization of additional surcharges expire on December 31, 2020.
The Attorney General shall reduce staff in proportion to the number of Second Injury Fund cases that remain.
The act creates the Second Injury Fund Commission composed of the Governor, Attorney General, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to approve additional surcharges and authorize certain settlements.
Sections 287.165 and 287.220 that establish the type of claims to be paid out of the fund, limitations on settlement agreements, and allowable interest under the chapter carry an emergency clause.
This act is similar to SB 430 (2011), SB 8 (2011), SB 807 (2012), SB 878 (2012), HCS/HB 1403 (2012), HB 1881 (2012), and SCS/SB 572 (2012).