According to records kept by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois workers experienced more than 155,000 job-related illnesses and injuries in 2013. Every employee who is hurt or becomes ill on the job has the right to workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and hours of work lost. If an Illinois employer fails to pay sufficient compensation after an illness or injury, the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund can step in and offer benefits to the employee.
What is the IWBF?
The IWBF was established in 2005 as a safety net for injured workers whose employers are unable to pay workers’ compensation benefits. When an Illinois employer is fined or penalized for failing to carry proper workers’ compensation insurance, the financial penalty is placed directly into this benefit fund. The fund is then used to assist workers in danger of insufficient compensation because of an uninsured or underinsured employer.
Establishing eligibility for IWBF benefits
Injured workers in Illinois who plan to apply for IWBF benefits must fulfill all of the following requirements:
- The injured worker has already received a final and definitive workers’ compensation award.
- The employer has not paid the benefits called for by the award.
- The employer has failed to carry appropriate workers’ compensation insurance.
If even one of these three requirements is missing—if, for example, the employer carries sufficient workers’ compensation insurance but has not responded appropriately to a claim—the case is resolved by other means without involving the IWBF.
How IWBF assistance works
When an employer fails to pay benefits or shows evidence of being uninsured, the IWBF application process should begin as quickly as possible. Injured workers must follow a specific procedure to apply for IWBF assistance. They must file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, with an additional copy sent to the State Treasurer, and they must inform the Treasurer’s office about any developments in the case. The Illinois Division of Insurance Compliance reviews each case and makes disbursements from the benefit fund at the end of every fiscal year. If IWBF funds are insufficient to cover all submitted claims for the year, benefits are distributed on a pro rata basis.
The Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund is an important resource for employees whose benefits may be put at risk by irresponsible employers. To learn more about this fund and how it can help injured workers, get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney today.