NJ's Second Injury Fund: Prior Disability Meets New Injury
The journey of recovery after a work-related injury can be arduous, more so if a worker has a prior disability. The Second Injury Fund (SIF) in New Jersey recognizes this and seeks to ensure that employers aren’t penalized for hiring workers with pre-existing conditions while also providing just compensation to the injured worker.
The Financial Shield of NJ Second Injury Fund
The SIF was established to encourage the hiring of previously disabled individuals by ensuring employers would not be fully liable for compensation resulting from an injury that’s significantly worsened due to a prior disability.
For an injured worker to receive benefits from the SIF:
- The worker must have had a measurable permanent disability prior to the latest work-related injury.
- The combined effect of the pre-existing disability and the recent injury must render the worker permanently and totally disabled.
- The disability resulting from the combination of the previous condition and the recent injury must be materially greater than that which would have resulted from the recent injury alone.
Once the employer’s insurance pays for the most recent injury up to its legal responsibility, the SIF steps in to cover the remainder of the benefits, ensuring that the worker receives full compensation for their total disability.
The Second Injury Fund is financed by assessments of all employers who are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.
Maria, a warehouse employee, had a prior disability due to a car accident that limited her leg mobility. While at work, she experienced a fall, resulting in a spinal injury. Individually, each disability was significant but manageable. Combined, however, they left Maria totally disabled. While her employer’s insurance covered the spinal injury, the SIF ensured Maria received benefits reflecting her combined disability status.
The Office of Special Compensation Funds administers the Second Injury Fund in the State of New Jersey. The Office publishes A Beneficiary’s Guide, which is given to each injured worker who qualifies as totally disabled with participation by the Fund.