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Vets Face Workplace Challenges as Second Injury Funds Diminish

When someone has already been injured, a second injury can often be particularly difficult. That is why, after World War II, many state governments created special funds to assist veterans returning to the workforce. The purpose was to help cover the cost of a subsequent injury that might become disabling.

These disability funds do not only help veterans. The funds also benefit people with pre-existing conditions, such as a missing limb or a missing eye, in the event of a second injury.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorneys are acutely aware of how, across the country, such funds are facing financial struggles.

About 20 states have already shut down their programs. In some other states, the funds are on the verge of insolvency.

This trend toward discontinuation of second-injury funds could not be happening at a more difficult time. After all, there are over 675,000 veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are known to have various disabilities.

But funds to help veterans deal with workplace injuries are diminishing, just when those funds are most needed. And it is by no means clear that the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, on its own, can provide sufficient protections for people with disabilities in the workforce.

Second injury funds are supposed to give an incentive for employers to hire disabled workers. If an employee who is already partly disabled suffers a workplace injury that caused additional impairment in the ability to work, the fund is designed to cover the workers' compensation costs for the second injury.

Source: "State disability funds going broke, and going away," David A. Lieb, Businessweek, 3-22-12

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