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Claims Reduced In Old State Disability Fund

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Twenty years after the Legislature agreed to close enrollment in a program meant to help encourage employers to hire workers who have permanent injuries, the program still has 2,673 open claims.

A new report conducted by AMI Risk Consultants, Inc. said the number of open claims in the Florida Special Disability Trust Fund in 2017-2018 had “dropped significantly” from the prior year, when there were 4,400 open claims.

Of the open claims, fewer than half of them, or 1,141 claims, are considered “active,” meaning the trust fund made a payment to an employer in the past five years.

There are another 803 open cases that are considered dormant because claims haven’t been made for at least six years.

The Florida Special Disability Trust Fund was established by the Legislature in 1955 to promote hiring people with pre-existing permanent injuries.

Lawmakers agreed to abolish the fund effective Jan. 1, 1998. But employers with claims for accidents before Jan. 1, 1998 are still eligible to seek reimbursements, and auditors noted that the fund received notice of a new claim in 2017-2018.

The trust fund receives no state funding; Its revenue comes from assessments against insurance companies’ workers’ compensation premiums.

The fund reimburses employers for any excess workers’ compensation claims involving employees with pre-existing conditions who are subsequently injured.

According to the audit, 729 claims are open but no payment history has been made.

Because the number of open claims dropped by 43 percent last year, the average administrative costs increased from $345.65 per claim in 2016-2017 to $578.67 in 2017-2018.

A copy of the report is here.