Synopsis: Illinois Work Comp Benefits Paid Dropped Compared to Rest of U.S. Per NASI Report and Analysis.
Editor’s comment: In Illinois, workers’ compensation benefits dropped in recent years compared to the rest of the U.S., according to a recent report from the National Academy of Social Insurance or NASI. We attribute this measured decrease in IL WC costs to the impact of
- More conservative and business-focused Arbitrators and Commissioners appointed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner;
- The recent change by our IL Appellate Court, WC Division to leave IWCC denials alone and not reverse denials to award benefits under the “manifest weight of the evidence” standard, as I feel they were sometimes doing. The panel has also issued what I feel are common sense rulings like Dorsey v. IWCC that provided employers statutory credit for prior loss of use of the arm/shoulder awards-settlements despite the fact such awards are now rendered on the “body as a whole.”
- The continued exodus of jobs and humans from Illinois continues as the out-migration continues to move folks and businesses away from Illinois with the highest combined sales, property and income taxes in the U.S. Fewer jobs mean lower WC benefits being paid.
Please remember Governor Rauner appears to be trailing in the coming November election. Thousands of retired IL government workers are aligned against him—they will be voting on one issue—protecting their impossible-to-fund fake government pensions. To avoid upsetting that voting bloc, neither gubernatorial candidate is discussing or trying to “reform” this massive government catastrophe. Please also remember the IL minimum wage will skyrocket to $15 an hour if the Democrat wins the November election. That increase should end more jobs but also make WC claim costs higher for lower-paid workers who remain in this State.
Finally, and with respect to NASI, I feel the best metric on IL WC claim costs is the every-other-year ranking of U.S. WC premium costs by the State of Oregon—sadly, their next report isn’t due until after that gubernatorial election but oddly may be released in the same month—November 2018.
Either way, the NASI report In 2015, workers’ compensation benefits paid in Illinois were $2.4 billion. I am sure the annual IL benefit outlay exceeded $3B in years past. The National Academy’s stat rats confirmed between 2011-2015, Illinois experienced a 19.3 percent decrease in benefits paid, the second largest decrease across the country. Total benefits in the rest of the U.S. increased by 2 percent over the same period (Table 1). According to the report, Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, the large decrease in total WC benefits in Illinois is most likely attributable to a number of legislative changes implemented in 2011 that regulated the medical delivery system.
In Illinois, both medical and cash WC benefits decreased between 2011 and 2015, but the percentage decrease in medical benefits was 50 percent greater than the decrease in cash benefits (-23.3 percent vs. -15.6 percent). As a result, medical benefits as a share of total benefits paid in the state fell from 47.7 percent in 2011 to 45.3 percent in 2015. Among all states, Illinois had the seventh lowest percentage share of medical benefits relative to total benefits paid in 2015. Illinois also experienced slower growth in employer costs for workers’ compensation relative to other states. Between 2011 and 2015, costs in Illinois increased 3.8 percent, well below the 21.6 percent increase in costs that occurred in the rest of the U.S.
Table 1. Workers' Compensation Benefits, Coverage, and Costs:
Illinois and the Rest of the U.S.
Percent Change 2011 to 2015
Rest of U.S.
Rest of U.S.
Aggregate Benefits, Coverage, and Costs
Total Benefits (billions)
Covered Workers (thousands)
Covered Payroll (billions)
Employer Costs (billions)
Other findings on workers’ compensation in Illinois from the Academy’s report include:
- Increases in employment and payroll covered by workers’ compensation were slightly below the growth in the rest of the nation. In 2015, covered employment reached 5.8 million in Illinois, up 5.2 percent from 2011 (compared to an 8.1 percent increase for all other states), and covered payroll was $320 billion, up 16 percent from 2011 (compared to a 19.4 percent increase for all other states).
- Workers’ compensation benefits paid in Illinois declined as a share of payroll to $0.75 per $100 of covered payroll in 2015, down from $1.08 in 2011 (Figure 1). Illinois experienced the third largest decline in benefits as a share of payroll among all states during that period. Benefits as a share of payroll declined in the rest of the U.S., but at a much more gradual pace.
Figure 1. Workers' Compensation Benefits per $100 of Covered Payroll, 2011-2015: Illinois and the Rest of the U.S. (non-federal)
- Costs as a share of payroll in Illinois decreased from $1.37 in 2011 to $1.23 in 2015 (Figure 2).While costs as a share of payroll in Illinois were higher than the rest of the country in 2011 ($1.37 vs. $1.27), they fell below the rest of the country in 2015 ($1.23 vs. $1.29).Illinois experienced the eleventh largest decline in costs as a share of payroll between 2011 and 2015.
Figure 2. Workers' Compensation Costs per $100 of Covered Payroll, 2011-2015: Illinois and the Rest of the U.S. (non-federal)
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Synopsis: Have you heard the news? There are brand new Indiana Section 15 (full and final settlement agreement) requirements and submission procedures, too. Article and analysis by our IN WC Defense Team Leader, Kevin Boyle, J.D.
Editor’s comment: The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board just released the eagerly awaited new protocol for submitting Section 15s that will go into effect in the next 30 – 45 days. A full and final settlement agreement in Indiana is commonly known as a “Section 15.” We call them “Section 15s” because the last number of the Indiana WC statute that provides for these agreements ends in section 15. Most Indiana WC claims that are settled use Section 15s because there are tremendous benefits to closing your WC claims with them.
The below list isn’t all inclusive, but contains the main changes. If you’d like a complete list, please email me at email@example.com. Also, although the changes don’t go into effect right away, the IWCB requests that we include the information as soon as possible.
Here’s a partial list of key new elements to include in future Section 15s:
- The number of weeks of TTD paid.
- Estimated total medical expenses paid.
- If there are outstanding medical bills, indicate the party that has responsibility to pay them with specificity if necessary.
- Future medical care and financial responsibility obligations.
- PPI calculations. If no PPI was assessed, explain why.
- Permanent restrictions, if issued.
- If Perm Total Disability is an issue, including language that the 15 does not bind Second Injury Fund, and that a determination of eligibility will be made at the time of application.
- Injured worker’s email address and phone number if known.
- Include the date of birth of the injured worker.
Extra supporting documentation to attach to the Section 15, too:
- Final medical report of treating physician.
- IME report, if any
- PPI report and accompanying hand or foot chart, if relevant.
- Employee waiver, if any.
- FCE report, if any and if relevant.
Additionally, and probably the most significant news, are the following two changes.
First, the submission procedures are changing decades of “how we used to do it.” The IWCB finally is going to start accepting electronically filed Section 15s through emails. They will be emailed instead of sent/delivered to the IWCB in paper form through the mail. These new email procedures haven’t been finalized yet so, we can’t email them in just yet. It should be implemented in the next 30 – 45 days.
Second, the individual hearing members will now sign the Approvals, instead of submitting the Section 15s to the IWCB administrative office as we’ve done for years, too. That’s another huge change. We are not sure yet how that could affect how quickly Approvals are signed, but we’ll find out more in the coming months, and I’ll let you know.
Again, if any questions on these changes, and other settlement agreement issues that could affect your claims, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if I’ve not been on your claim as it was handled, if you reach a settlement on your case and need a quick Section 15, contact me.