Several states, including Missouri, are facing the decision whether to continue trying to fund their second-injury funds or shutting them down for good.  Second-injury funds began as a way to encourage businesses to hire disabled veterans returning from war after WWII.  The Funds protect the employers of previously-injured employees from having to pay the cost of the first injury if an employee is injured again while on the job. Now, as veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq are returning home, the second-injury funds may not be there for them anymore.  This could cause more problems for wounded veterans looking for work.

In Missouri, the Second Injury Fund stopped settling cases in 2009, forcing employees to go through a hearing process to determine if the employee is entitled to benefits.  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has admitted the Fund is in trouble and has laid off lawyers who were defending the fund and stopped paying new awards for permanent, total disabled employees in order to cut back spending.  However, these efforts may not be enough.  Rising healthcare costs and a 3% surcharge cap passed into law in 2005, may be partially to blame for Missouri's financial woes.  Although there are several critics of second-injury funds, those veterans who have been awarded funds and rely on those funds to support their families, are afraid of what would happen if second-injury funds were no longer available.  John Cleeton, a veteran of Vietnam, police officer and recipient of Second Injury Fund money in Missouri puts it this way, "It helps people -- it keeps them from having to resort to begging at the corners."
Comments are closed.