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Chicago tightening workers' compensation budget (again)

Faced with the same budget shortfalls that are affecting governments everywhere, Illinois' Windy City has a new target. Led by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Alderman Edward Burke, Chicago is cracking down on workers' compensation cases, with the goal of trimming $15 million from the city's $100 million annual tab. The approach is two pronged; taking measures to reduce worker accidents, but also aggressively pursuing fraudulent cases.

At the Department of Sanitation, one third of the workers are out injured on any given day. It is hoped that the safety analysis will find ways to reduce injuries. Better monitoring of injured workers could save money by keeping disability records more up to date and ensuring that workers do not exploit their injuries by staying off work longer than is medically necessary. However, the most significant change may be increased oversight and more detailed investigation and management of existing cases.

It's no surprise that there are some fraudulent workers' compensation cases. The challenge is that any crackdown aimed at limiting the ability of scammers to exploit the system inevitably makes things harder for the legitimately disabled, who may find themselves needing to find more extensive documentation for their injuries. The result may be the denial of some claims that ought to have been approved.

An Illinois attorney familiar with workers' compensation claims may help follow established procedure to avoid an unfair denial. The lawyer may also assist in ensuring that the effort of city bureaucrats to manage their budgets does not translate into harassment of injured workers entitled to the benefits for which they have contributed through their paychecks. Often, the injuries which sideline an individual from working make it difficult to deal with the red tape involved in the workers' compensation claims process.

Source: The Chicago Sun Times, "Emanuel-Burke launch crackdown on worker comp cases," Fran Spielman, Oct. 11, 2011

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