By Kim Presbrey
Fraud is a term which is frequently used by employers as the number one attack on the workers' compensation system. Claimants receiving benefits for injuries that did not occur or injuries that have healed is often a subject that is sensationalized on television.
The fraud that never makes it on videotape is the fraud committed by employers who either have no workers' compensation insurance or attempt to circumvent the necessity of workers' compensation insurance by maintaining that all or most of their employees are actually independent contractors. If the latter fraud could be videotaped and put on television there would be little else to watch.
Since January 1, 2006, the state of Illinois has collected over $3 million in fines from employers who were either negligently or fraudulently uninsured. The penalty for uninsurance is $500 a day so it is quite apparent how rampant this problem is.
Unfortunately, fraud by employers and insurance companies doesn't seem to sell television ads quite as well as a man sitting on a boat with a fishing pole collecting benefits. This is quite unfair when you consider that a claimant in Illinois who commits fraud can be sent to jail while in a lawyer that commits fraud only pays a fine.
I would argue that a claimant who commits fraud injures one employer and that an employer which commits fraud injures every other employer because by not paying insurance it receives an economic benefit over every other employer in the State.
The Injured Workers' Benefit Fund collects record amount of fines By the end of the current fiscal year, the Insurance Compliance Division will have collected a record number of fines for the Injured Workers' Benefit Fund (IWBF). With 10 days left in the fiscal year, $1.6 million in fines have been collected so far. Additionally, since January 1, 2006 the Commission has collected over $3 million in fines. All of that money will be used to pay benefits to victims of uninsured employers.
To understand the eligibility requirements, check our Injured Workers' Benefit Fund web page. In order to help assist the Commission in quickly identifying eligible beneficiaries of the fund, we have developed a IWBF Request For Benefits and Affidavit form, which all individuals claiming eligibility for payments at the end of this fiscal year should immediately fill out and send to: ATTN: Injured Workers' Benefit Fund Claim Division of Insurance Compliance Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission 100 W. Randolph St., #8-200 Chicago, IL 60601.