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Bill That Would Limit North Carolina Workers’ Comp For Seniors Gains Strength


Posted on Apr 17, 2009

The North Carolina General Assembly is looking at a bill that could likely lower insurance costs for employers across the state - but also a bill that may leave seniors without North Carolina workers compensation benefits after the age of 65.

The bill was sponsored and introduced by Senator Tom Apodaca last month. The lead House sponsor is Representative Bruce Goforth, the chair of the Insurance Committee. Now, some are suggesting that the bill may be able to pass at the committee level.

The new workers' compensation bill will help employers financially, but will not see the support of workers' advocates, seniors, or lawyers.

Those who support the bill, such as Rep. Goforth, say that some older workers are making fraudulent workers' compensation claims when they aren't receiving enough money from their Social Security benefits. Seniors may fake injuries in order to receive extra money: "[They] see that they can't make it on Social Security, so they get a back injury at 61 years old," explained Goforth.

The new workers compensation bill
only applies to temporary disabilities - not those with chronic or terminal conditions - but opponents of the bill argue that the classification for permanent disabilities is very strict. For those over 65, workers compensation would be limited to six years for disabilities.

North Carolina Advocates for Justice
and the North Carolina Chapter of the AARP argue that the law would put big business before the needs of the elderly. On the other hand, a lobbiest for Western Carolina Industries argues that similar laws already exist in other neighboring states, making North Carolina less competitive when it comes to attracting industry.

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