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Workers' Compensation and Older Workers

By: John F. Burton, Jr. and Emily Spieler
Published: April 2001
Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce
Brief No. 3 ~ April 2001

Summary: After rising sharply in the 1980s, workers' compensation costs and benefits declined during the 1990s. The recent decline may reflect, in part, a decline in the availability and adequacy of these benefits. Workers in the second half of their work lives are particularly likely to be affected by these changes. Although workers' compensation continues to compensate workers for acute short-term injuries, the availability of benefits for permanent disabilities associated with aging appears to be declining in many states. This trend is likely to shift benefit costs to other social and private insur-ance. To the extent that other programs do not replace earnings lost due to permanent disability, these costs are shifted to workers and their families.