Subsequent Injuries Benefit Trust Fund
Updated: August 13, 2022
ArticleIf you have had a workers' compensation injury that has rendered you unable to work permanently, especially if you are now eligible for Social Security Disability after your work injury, then you need to take the time to read this article.
When a workers' compensation injury is severe, an injured worker can be considered permanent and totally disabled; this is typically someone whose overall disability from the injury prevents them from gainful employment. Basically, you are not able to hold a job for an extended period of time, tolerate a normal work schedule, or other indicators that indicate you're not able to work. But what if your work injury caused disability that was not enough on its own to make you unemployable?
An injured worker served their country in the military and came back from the conflict with PTSD and a right knee injury. After they were honorably discharged, the injured worker worked in jobs for a number of years until a workers' compensation injury to their back occurred at one of the jobs. The injured worker ended up having a back surgery; pain and numbness affected both legs to the point where the injured worker had difficulty walking long distances or standing for prolonged periods of time. The back pain alone is manageable for the injured worker, and he could find a job in an office environment, however, the PTSD makes it hard for the injured worker to deal with people. They have been working labor jobs which don't require them to interact with people and solve problems, therefore, the injured worker cannot find work.
Now the question is: what does the PTSD have to do with the workers' compensation case since it is a problem that was there before the injury and employment where the back injury occurred? This is one of the most overlooked areas in workers' compensation.
Since this injured worker hurt his back at work (we'll call this the subsequent injury), and this person had a PTSD problem (a pre-existing injury), then the disabling condition from the back injury, the PTSD, the right knee problem (another pre-existing injury) from the military, and any other disabling condition that occurred before the back injury would combine. If those combined conditions prevent the person from working, a Subsequent Injuries Benefit Trust Fund case may exist. This is especially clear if someone is eligible for Social Security Disability.
Please understand that this is a simplistic example, and these cases are much more complicated, however, we wanted to give you an example of how these cases can happen. There are a lot of other factors that a workers' compensation attorney who understands these types of case would have to consider. The point is this: if you have a workers' compensation case and prior health problems or injuries that together have prevented you from working now, then you should immediately consult with a workers' compensation attorney who understands these types of cases. Please do not wait or say to yourself "I will get it later," because the law may limit when you can seek rights in this area.