Worker’s comp system updated

Worker’s compensation benefits for both Permanent Partial Impairment and death benefits have been increased in the Alaska House by a vote of 21-19, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

These benefits have not been adjusted for inflation for 20 and 50 years, respectively. House Bill 38, sponsored by Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, would boost the PPI index from $177,000 to $255,506, and require annual updates to account for inflation. The bill would also adjust death benefits for financial dependents from the current $20,000 set in 1968 to $100,000.

“While nothing can replace a loved one who dies on the job, a financial calamity for the deceased’s dependents is not a necessary evil,” Josephson said. “This bill increases that benefit to $100,000, which still has only about two-thirds of the purchasing power of the original $20,000 in 1968.”

HB 38 would also provide a more modest death benefit to families of workers who do not have dependents. Today parents of a young person who dies om the job, for example, would only receive up to $10,000 for funeral costs. This bill would provide a benefit of up to $70,000.

“A permanent disability today is as tragic and frustrating as it was in 2000, and the compensation should retain its value by adjusting for inflation,” said Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, a co-sponsor of the bill.