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Possible changes to workers compensation benefits in Ohio

Important changes may be coming to workers' compensations benefits for employees in Columbus and across the state of Ohio. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) introduced the changes as a way to encourage employers to maintain a safe workplace and to improve the speed of recovery for injured employees. They have dubbed the new plan, "Destination: Excellence."

The plan comes after a number of trends that authorities called troubling. Four years ago, 75 percent of all injured workers were able to return to work within a year. However, that has since fallen to below 69 percent. This could prove problematic as the longer someone stays out of the workforce; the harder it is to adjust once they return. Moreover, a longer than necessary recovery period could see the employee miss out on opportunities for advancement.

Also, the BWC says that their long-term care costs are the worst in the nation. That is in addition to spiraling medical and indemnity costs, which may make the program unsustainable as it currently exists. The new initiative is designed to get costs under control and improve return-to-work rates by giving employers more choice in the type of plans they offer.

Any mention about change to workers' compensation benefits may give many Columbus and Ohio employees a moment of concern. However, if the changes do reduce work place accidents and speed up recovery time, then they may well prove beneficial. Nonetheless, injured employees will still need to take the time to fill out the necessary forms for obtaining the benefits, and small mistakes could lead to a denial or reduction in benefits. To ensure the proper and timely filing of the forms, legal assistance may prove invaluable, especially if a dispute arises with the BWC.

Source: The Business Journal, "BWC Proposes Return-to-Work Rate Plan," Nov. 21, 2011

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