10/17/18 Julius Young
Recently I became aware of an interesting experiment by the SCIF, the State Compensation Insurance Fund.
Titled the “Injured Worker Incentive Program”, this SCIF program (see link below) promised certain monetary incentives to those who it deemed in compliance with certain benchmarks.
This apparently was a small SCIF program, and inquiries by some of my colleagues have resulted in head scratching by various SCIF attorneys who claimed no knowledge of it. The program may not be getting off the ground at this time.
I’ve heard whispers that this program came to the attention of some at the DWC, but to my knowledge there’s been no public discussion of it.
The July 2018 explanatory letter from SCIF notes that “the sooner injured employees return to work, the sooner they feel better.” The letter explains that this program is established to encourage injured workers “to establish and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle”. As a result, “State Fund is prepared to assist you in your efforts by supplying some fitness equipment which you or your physician may think would be helpful.”
Other benefits of the program included:
• Potential eligibility for a $1,000 payment to those who return to work within 7 days of release by a doctor and who remain employed for 6 months;
• Payments of $500 for maintaining pre-injury weight or $1,000 for losing at least 5% of pre-injury weight;
• Potential monetary payments of $1,500 (compliance with treatment), $1,000 (staying within the MPN), and $1,250 (agreeing with the PTP findings to avoid use of the QME medical-legal evaluation process);
• Wellness program participation ($500)
These cash awards were noted to be considered taxable income and as a result 1099 forms would be issued by SCIF.
How should we assess this program?
One could argue that experimentation in workers’ compensation may be a good thing. And some of the program’s goals are laudable, i.e. getting people back to work and supporting healthy lifestyles and “wellness”. Extra monetary incentives for workers could possibly be a tool to drive behavior that arguably might lead to some better outcomes.
It’s an issue that the comp community should debate.