Monday, April 14, 2008

Minnesota Lawmakers Push for Better Workers’ Comp for Cops, Public Servants

Here’s another story about how workers’ compensation and Social Security disability rules affect public employers, like police officers and government employees. This story takes place in Minnesota.

Police officer Dan Wulff suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training exercise, and it left him permanently disabled. However, because of the way the law is applied, he is only eligible for temporary disability payments.

Dan Wulff is literally caught in the middle. Had he been killed, his widow would be getting 100 percent of his salary. Had he been partially disabled, he'd still be getting 100 percent. However, because he's fully and permanently disabled, he gets only about two-thirds.

The problem is a quirk in federal and state law known as the windfall elimination provision. Originally intended to curb fraud, it caps permanent total disability at 66 percent of the workers’ wage at the time of injury.

The law affects not only cops, but firefighters, school teachers and millions of other federal, state and city workers. Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan says almost no one knows about the provision until it’s too late.

Wulff isn’t collecting workers’ compensation and obviously Social Security Disability isn’t providing him the coverage or benefits he deserves.

Some state and national lawmakers are trying to correct this loophole, which penalizes public servants like Wulff.

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