New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the 2016 Executive Budget in January, which proposes both procedural and substantive changes to workers compensation law. These proposals, if adopted, would greatly impact the benefits and due process rights of injured workers.

One proposal eliminates the Aggregate Trust Fund (ATF) deposit requirement. Currently, the ATF allows permanently partially disabled workers to receive fair settlements, albeit lower than before a 2007 reform, by requiring insurers to deposit money into the ATF. If the proposed elimination of deposit requirements to the ATF is adopted, permanently disabled workers, widows, and dependent children will be greatly affected by the reduction of benefits.

Another budget proposal aims for major reform on how judges are assigned to workers’ compensation cases. Currently, claimants have the right to have their case heard before a single judge. Seeking to eliminate this, the new proposed budget would allow any judge in New York to decide claims whether the case was before them earlier in the proceedings or not.

An additional procedural change proposed concerns the appeals process. Currently, if a worker is denied a claim by the Workers’ Compensation Law Judges, the claimant may appeal to an appeals panel. The 2016 proposed budget will replace the panel with a single commissioner or attorney who would decide the appeal. This would deny claimants the due process right to have their appeal heard before multiple individuals instead of just one.

With budgetary demands, and possible legal reforms, the workers’ compensation system can be confusing and complex. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is essential to understanding your rights under workers’ compensation law. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. For more information please call (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.

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