Synopsis: AUGUST IN IL—ARE WE SWEATING DUE TO HUMIDITY OR NEW IL WC RATES BEING POSTED???—UPDATED RATE SHEETS AVAILABLE SOON FOR ILLINOIS WC RATE INCREASE!!!
Editor’s comment: Illinois WC Rates Have Updated Again So Please Be Aware Of The New Rates or Your Claims Handling Will Suffer and Penalties May Ensue.
We like to continually hope it’s a sign of a growing state economy and influx of business however that doesn’t appear to be the case—even though rates continue to increase almost every cycle as we continue to watch the growth of IL WC rates. As we have mentioned in the past, since in the 1980’s, the IL WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the IL economy is doing WC rates continue to climb.
We caution our readers to pay attention to the fact the IL WC statutory maximum PPD rate is $790.64. However, this rate is only through June 30, 2018 and the new max PPD will be published in January 2019. When it will be published in January 2019, this rate will change retroactively from July 1, 2018 forward. At that time, if you don’t make the change, your reserves will be incorrect--if this isn’t clear, send a reply.
The current TTD weekly maximum has risen to $1,480.12. A worker has to make over $2,220.18 per week or $115,449.36 per year to hit the new IL WC maximum TTD rate.
The new IL WC minimum is creeping closer to the $725k floor. That amount is now 25 years of compensation or $555.05 per week x 52 weeks in a year x 25 years or $721,565.00! The new maximum IL WC death benefit is $1,480.12 times 52 weeks times 25 years or a lofty $1,924,156.00 plus burial benefits of $8K. IL WC death benefits also come with annual COLA increases which we feel can potentially makes Illinois the highest in the U.S. for WC death claims.
The best way to make sense of all of this is to get Shawn Biery’s colorful, updated and easy-to-understand IL WC Rate Sheet. AGAIN—If you want just one or a dozen or more, simply reply to Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org AND Marissa at email@example.com They will get a copy routed to you once we get laminated copies back from the printer—hopefully before they raise the rates again! Please confirm your mailing address if you would like laminated copies sent to your home or office!
Synopsis: Gene Keefe on City of Chicago WC Defense Program Morass Under Alderman Ed Burke.
Editors’ comment: The news sources in Chicago were a’rocking when a federal lawsuit was recently filed to seek to force the City of Chicago to stop letting Alderman Ed Burke run the morass that is Chicago’s WC defense program. Jay Stone, who I consider a complete and well-intentioned gadfly was behind the legal action that I feel is going to rapidly be dismissed. It has opened some debate I consider important for you, as a reader.
After that litigation got filed, the Better Gov’t Association joined in the fray and they want Chicago’s WC Program to also be taken out of control of Alderman Ed Burke. This government corruption watchdog group voiced its support for efforts to move Chicago's workers' compensation program out from under the control, or perhaps the comical lack of control, of a powerful city alderman. I don’t see any true value in moving
the WC claims from Alderman Burke to Mayor Rahm Emanuel—the City needs an outside source to be responsible for properly managing these benefits.
Here are my thoughts in order of importance:
- Alderman Burke is the husband of IL Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. I would think if you or I were married to an IL Supreme Court justice, you would have the highest ethical standards of any politician in this crooked state. Please keep reading to weigh your thoughts on the ethics involved. I am happy to meet with Justice Burke to discuss my opinions on this topic at her convenience.
- Alderman Burke is near or close to being a billionaire, yep, a billionaire, because he wants all of his supporters and political donators to give him the corporate contact or decision-maker at their company for Chicago’s comically “fake” real estate tax appeals. Alderman Burke uses those contacts to legally make the billions he has made over the years. The reason I feel Chicago’s real estate tax appeals are “fake” or phony is the unquestioned fact there is no legal work going on. No IL law school teaches “real estate tax appeals.” The IL Bar exam asks no questions about this area of “law.” Alderman Burke doesn’t appear, file briefs or argue before any judge to obtain the hundreds of millions in legal fees earned by his firm in the nutty process every year and the entire process is ethically flawed. Basically, one politician—the Cook County Assessor—first screws up our real estate taxes. In response, someone files what is comically called an “appeal” so the “appeal panel” considers other properties around the subject property to “re-set” the taxes to what is arguably the accurate amount and the politicians, as lawyers, make zillions on the process. If the County Assessor just got our real estate taxes correct in the first place, the whole thing would disappear. I feel there is enough computing capability in your cell phone to get any assessment correct or very close to correct—instead, the Assessor still uses pen and paper and calculators and other silly computational devices to insure they are repeatedly wrong in setting assessments. Why would they want to be wrong? So the other politicians make zillions on the process…
- Alderman Burke accepts/seeks legal but ethically challenged donations from three Claimant firms who have “favored nation” status and get most of the City of Chicago WC claimant work. In my opinion, one defense firm also gets favored nation status to defend City of Chicago “emergency” petitions. It is my understanding and opinion, if a defense firm gets such work, they can bill and bill and bill and bill to their heart’s content to potentially make up for their donations to Alderman Burke. No one audits such legal billing that I am aware of. To get the defense work, the firm has to donate quarterly along with making with one large annual payment, I mean donation each year.
- It is my opinion, the City of Chicago may spend between $120M-200M each year in WC payouts. It is my further feeling Alderman Burke “hides” all WC payments/reserves and budgets either in the numerous City of Chicago departments or wherever he feels best. If you send an FOIA request for how much the City of Chicago spends on WC every year, it was my experience they will tell you they don’t know and have no way to find out. It is my feeling the “hiding” of WC payouts is unethical and inappropriate in an open government.
- If you check online for City of Chicago job titles, there is no one identified as a claims handler manager for WC. There is no member of the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel’s office designated or specifically trained as a workers’ comp defense lawyer.
- To my understanding, the City of Chicago has as many as 3,000 pending WC claims at any time. They have one claims manager and one defense lawyer handling about thirty times the work level of most private claims or defense firms. The lack of management or legal defense insures payouts will be huge to injured City workers.
- I am not aware of the City of Chicago ever doing a pro se settlement under the guidance of Alderman Burke—every claim goes “legal” and one or more of his favored lawyers makes the money to handle.
- To my further recollection, Alderman Burke does not feel the City of Chicago can and should bring any injured worker back to light work—he dismisses the concept as worthless despite the fact every company on the planet tries to implement it. Because of this “no-light-work” focus by this powerful politician, injured City workers are allowed to stay off work for years and years on TTD. When they settle, the money is well into the six-figures.
- To my further recollection, Alderman Burke does not allow for surveillance of injured City workers on TTD. It is my opinion, he doesn’t want his private eyes to catch loyal precinct workers who have side jobs and second jobs or operate businesses while on TTD.
In short, I feel the City of Chicago is nutty when it comes to running their own WC defense program. I don’t feel the Mayor’s Office has any chance to improve on their dismal results. I feel there is a strong need for an outside company or force to handle it and try to bring the concept in line before this version of the Titanic hits the iceberg, bringing the City of Chicago down with it.