The issue of workers' compensation at Illinois state institutions has been in the news of late. At issue is a startling claim that just a dozen or so institutions in southern Illinois made up almost one-third of the total amount awarded through the workers' compensation system. Of those institutions, Menard Correctional Center in Chester led the pack.
The data was collected and released by the Associated Press and was culled from official state records. The Menard Correctional is also the focus of three fraud investigations into the injury-claim process. The institution made claims and was able to collect $19 million in long-term benefits from 2007 through 2010.
Menard Correctional was not alone in collecting huge sums from the state's workers' compensation system. Eleven other state facilities collected significant sums as well. All were within 80 miles of each other and included juvenile detention centers, prisons, mental health and developmental centers. These 12 facilities collected over $40 million of the compensation for injured workers' long-term impairment during the four years that were examined.
It should be noted that this study only reported on government institutions and not on private businesses. The study examined some 7,800 cases obtained from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission through the Freedom of Information Act. To compare the amounts discovered as being paid out in these southern institutions, the rest of Illinois pay-outs for other government institutions accounted for $24 million from 51 other institutions.
What results this study will produce in terms of legislation or oversight has yet to be determined. One thing is certain, the numbers presented within the study will raise some eyebrows which could have a detrimental effect for those who are truly deserving of workers' compensation. When benefits are warranted, they should be granted and no one truly eligible for them should be denied.
Source: CBS News, "Third of Ill. worker comp awards in 12 facilities," Dec 05, 2011