OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ - The State Assembly has passed Assemblywoman Joann Downey’s (D-Freehold) bill to clarify the effective date of increased Workers Compensation benefits implemented earlier this year for workers who lose a hand or foot in a job-related accident.
The bill (A-4134), which also increases the benefit for burial expenses for a worker whose death is the result of a workplace accident or occupational disease.
“It is important to make sure judges, lawyers and people who work in the courts know that the increased benefits apply to cases started after or pending when the original bill (S-782) from the previous legislative session was implemented on January 21 of this year,” said Downey, who is chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “These are important measures because the bill mandates the first significant increase in the benefit paid for the loss of a hand or foot since 1980.”
Downey’s bill also clarifies that the increased benefit for burial expenses from $3,500 to $5,000 also applies to claims pending or filed since January 21.
“The average cost of a burial in New Jersey is more than $7,000 and when you add in a traditional funeral the average is more than $11,000,” said Downey (D-Freehold). “That’s a lot of money for most working families to have to come up with, especially if the person who died is the main source of income in the household.”
Downey continued, “The death of a loved one because of a work accident or job-related disease is devastating enough without having to deal with the anxiety of not having enough money to bury them. In addition, compensation for the loss of a hand or foot has increased so little over the years that the benefit did not come close to representing the value and importance of our hands and feet in our jobs and activities of daily living. Increasing these benefits is long overdue.”
Bill A4134 will now go to the State Senate for further consideration.