The New Hampshire Second Injury Fund (NHSIF) is a vital program of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law and something that every business owner should be familiar with.
When used properly, this fund can help reduce risk to your company. In order to ensure both you and your employees are effectively covered, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the NHSIF. Of course, another key aspect of this is partnering with a good property and casualty commercial insurance broker.
If this all sounds new to you, we’re here to answer all your questions and walk you through it. Read on to learn:
- What the NHSIF is
- How it works
- How employers can use it
- Why it reduces risk for companies
What is the New Hampshire Second Injury Fund?
The Second Injury Fund gives employers an option to limit their compensation costs if a partially disabled employee sustains a work-related injury that leaves them more injured than it would a non-impaired employee. This can be whole or partial compensation. The worker’s pre-existing condition should be a permanent impairment that poses an obstacle in obtaining employment. It doesn’t matter where or how the employee sustained the original disability.
The fund was established by the state in 1975 as a way to encourage employers to hire individuals with preexisting injuries, conditions, and/or disabilities by helping with the workers’ compensation costs.
Previously, there was a concern that a disabled person who is injured on the job would be left more disabled than a non-disabled worker. This would result in higher workers’ compensation insurance costs like medical benefits, weekly compensation benefits, or both.
How Does it Work?
The NHSIF is meant to equalize the compensation costs that an employer and their insurance company must pay for both impaired and non-impaired workers. This removes a potential barrier to the employment of disabled individuals.
When an employee sustains a work-related injury that results in claim payments of $10,000 or more, the employer’s insurance company can apply to the SIF for reimbursements (think of it as a deductible of $10,000). The insurance carrier will request the first reimbursement after 104 weeks of treatment and/or time lost from work.
Second Injury Fund Benefits and Reimbursement
There are several ways the benefits can be reimbursed, including:
- Eligible benefits, meaning medical expenses and indemnity payments (Note: Nurse case management fees and permanent impairment awards are ineligible benefits.)
- Benefits up to and including week 104 of disability will be reimbursed at 50%
- Benefits after week 104 or disability are reimbursed at 100%
- Reimbursement is for eligible benefits paid in the prior calendar year (i.e., 2019 benefits must be requested by 9/1/2020 and will be reimbursed in 2021, usually in the first quarter)
- Lump-Sum Settlements (LSS) for future indemnity benefits are reimbursable at 52 weeks per year and claim reimbursement continues until LSS is recovered. (Note: LSS must first be approved by the NHSIF, then by the New Hampshire Department of Labor.)
Additionally, there is a section under the NHSIF allowing employers to request 50% (up to $5,000 annually) for reimbursement for job modifications they make to accommodate an employee’s impairment or condition. These modifications need to be pre-approved by the SIF and you can start by submitting this form.
For example, you might provide a special keyboard, mouse, or office chair for an employee with carpal tunnel syndrome. Another example might be a truck driver who sustained a rotator cuff injury and now needs special equipment to drive, such as a lever instead of a steering wheel. This part of the program can be very helpful in mitigating your costs for these types of supplies and equipment.
Finally, the NHSIF will reimburse carriers and self-insurers for increased wages paid on a workers’ compensation claim for an injured employee who is simultaneously employed with another New Hampshire employer.
How Can Employers Use the Second Injury Fund?
To ensure you are eligible and successfully apply for the NHSIF, you will need:
- Written documentation of the employee’s permanent pre-existing physical or mental impairment dated prior to the work injury and maintained confidentially and separately from the employee’s personnel file.
- To have provided some special accommodation (e.g., extra breaks to check their blood sugar).
- Notice to the NHSIF provided 100 weeks from the date of the subsequent injury
- Various items of medical information and opinion
The best way to stay on top of this is to have an employee complete the Second Injury Fund form after they have been officially hired. We recommend employers then ask employees to update this form annually. Management can also update it any time they learn new information.
It’s best to discuss the form with each new employee in order to ensure full disclosure of any permanent physical or mental disabilities. This way, you can assure them that disclosing this information will not affect their ability to obtain worker’s compensation benefits in the case that they do sustain a work-related injury. It is important for you to get a fully accurate SIF questionnaire in order to receive partial reimbursement for benefits paid.
Requesting a completed SIF questionnaire and submitting medical information and records after the employee has been hired is legal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).
Find the Right Partners
The New Hampshire Second Injury Fund exists to both reduce risks for employers and ensure all employees—both impaired and non-impaired—are sufficiently compensated in the case of a work-related injury.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Work with BlueLion and a reputable property and casualty commercial insurance broker to protect your business and employees. We will educate you and make sure you have the proper processes in place to be prepared for the SIF in the case that you need it.
We also know it can be difficult to find an experienced, high-quality insurance provider. That’s why we teamed up with Tyler Halstead, Account Executive at The Rowley Agency, Inc., to bring you a complete guide on the NH SIF. Tyler will be happy to provide you with a quote that fits your budget and guide you with support and safety measures to reduce injuries and other risks to your business.
If you do have a case that is eligible for the NH SIF, Tyler and his team will make sure you are covered and receive the maximum reimbursement.
Not to mention, The Rowley Agency is an Assurex Global Partner. Assurex Global is the world’s largest privately-held risk management and commercial insurance brokerage group.
Contact us today at 603-818-4131 or [email protected] to learn more about partnering with BlueLion and The Rowley Agency to reduce risk for your company!