State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Public Act No. 98-104

An Act Concerning Workers' Compensation Death Benefits, Cost-of-Living Adjustments and The Second Injury Fund Advisory Board


Signed by Governor John G. Rowland
on May 22, 1998
Section 1 Effective October 1, 1998; Sections 2-6 Effective July 1, 1998

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (a) Not later than thirty days after the date an employer or insurer discontinues paying weekly disability benefits to an injured employee under the provisions of chapter 568 of the general statutes due to the death of the injured employee, the employer or insurer shall send by registered or certified mail to the last address to which the injured employee's workers' compensation benefit checks were mailed, a written notice stating, in simple language, that dependents of the deceased employee may be eligible for death benefits under chapter 568 of the general statutes, subject to the filing and benefit eligibility requirements of said chapter.

(b) Not later than October 1, 1998, the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Commission shall develop a standard form that may be used by employers and insurers to provide the notice required under subsection (a) of this section.

(c) The failure of an employer or insurer to comply with the notice requirements of subsection (a) of this section shall not excuse a dependent of a deceased employee from making a claim for compensation within the time limits prescribed by subsection (a) of section 31-294c of the general statutes unless the dependent of the deceased employee demonstrates, in the opinion of the commissioner, that he was prejudiced by such failure to comply. Each dependent who, in the opinion of the commissioner, demonstrates that he was prejudiced by the failure of an employer or insurer to comply with the notice requirements of subsection (a) of this section shall be granted an extension of time in which to file a notice of claim for compensation with the deceased employee’s employer or insurer pursuant to section 31-294c of the general statutes, but such extension shall not exceed the period of time equal to the interim between the end of the thirty day period set forth in subsection (a) of this section and the date the notice required under said subsection was actually mailed.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 31-306 of the general statutes, as amended by section 3 of public act 97-205, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Compensation shall be paid to dependents on account of death resulting from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment or from an occupational disease as follows:

(1) Four thousand dollars shall be paid for burial expenses in any case where the employee died on or after October 1, 1988. If there is no one wholly or partially dependent upon the deceased employee, the burial expenses of four thousand dollars shall be paid to the person who assumes the responsibility of paying the funeral expenses.

(2) To those wholly dependent upon the deceased employee at the date of his injury, a weekly compensation equal to seventy-five per cent of the average weekly earnings of the deceased calculated pursuant to section 31-310, after such earnings have been reduced by any deduction for federal or state taxes, or both, and for the federal Insurance Contributions Act made from such employee’s total wages received during the period of calculation of the employee’s average weekly wage pursuant to said section 31-310, as of the date of the injury but not more than the maximum weekly compensation rate set forth in section 31-309 for the year in which the injury occurred or less than twenty dollars weekly. (A) The weekly compensation rate of each dependent entitled to receive compensation under this section as a result of death arising from a compensable injury occurring on or after October 1, 1977, shall be adjusted annually as provided in this subdivision as of the following October first, and each subsequent October first, to provide the dependent with a cost-of-living adjustment in his weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of the injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate, as determined under the provisions of said section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing at the date of the injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive at the date of the injury OR OCTOBER 1, 1990, WHICHEVER IS LATER, shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of said section 31-309 from the date of the injury OR OCTOBER 1, 1990, WHICHEVER IS LATER, to such October first. The cost-of-living increases provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with the October first next succeeding the date of the injury. With respect to any dependent receiving benefits on the effective date of [this act] PUBLIC ACT 97-205 with respect to any injury occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before the effective date of [this act] PUBLIC ACT 97-205, such benefit shall be recalculated to the effective date of [this act] PUBLIC ACT 97-205 as if such benefits had been subject to recalculation annually under this subparagraph. The difference between the amount of any benefits which would have been paid to such dependent if such benefits had been subject to such recalculation and the actual amount of benefits paid during the period between such injury and such recalculation shall be paid to the dependent not later than December 1, 1997, in a lump-sum payment. The employer or his insurer shall be reimbursed by the Second Injury Fund, as provided in section 31-354, for adjustments, including lump-sum payments, payable under this subparagraph for deaths from compensable injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before the effective date of [this act] PUBLIC ACT 97-205, upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. (B) The weekly compensation rate of each dependent entitled to receive compensation under this section as a result of death arising from a compensable injury occurring on or before September 30, 1977, shall be adjusted as of October 1, 1977, and October 1, 1980, and thereafter, as provided in this subdivision to provide the dependent with partial cost-of-living adjustments in his weekly compensation rate. As of October 1, 1977, the weekly compensation rate paid prior to October 1, 1977, to the dependent shall be increased by twenty-five per cent. The partial cost-of-living adjustment provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. In addition, [as of October 1, 1980, and] on each [subsequent] October first, the weekly compensation rate of each dependent AS OF OCTOBER 1, 1990, shall be increased [to provide further cost-of-living adjustments in his weekly compensation rate. If the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under the provisions of said section 31-309 existing on October 1, 1977, to be effective as of any October first following October 1, 1979, is greater than the compensation rate prevailing on October 1, 1979, the weekly compensation rate shall be increased] by the percentage of the increase in the maximum compensation rate over the maximum compensation rate of October 1, [1979] 1990, as determined under the provisions of [said] section 31-309 existing on October 1, 1977. The cost of the adjustments shall be paid by the employer or his insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed therefor from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require.

(3) If the surviving spouse is the sole presumptive dependent, compensation shall be paid until death or remarriage.

(4) If there is a presumptive dependent spouse surviving and also one or more presumptive dependent children, all of which children are either children of the surviving spouse or are living with the surviving spouse, the entire compensation shall be paid to the surviving spouse in the same manner and for the same period as if the surviving spouse were the sole dependent. If, however, any of the presumptive dependent children are neither children of the surviving spouse nor living with the surviving spouse, the compensation shall be divided into as many parts as there are presumptive dependents. The shares of any children having a presumptive dependent parent shall be added to the share of the parent and shall be paid to the parent. The share of any dependent child not having a surviving dependent parent shall be paid to the father or mother of the child with whom the child may be living, or to the legal guardian of the child, or to any other person, for the benefit of the child, as the commissioner may direct.

(5) If the compensation being paid to the surviving presumptive dependent spouse terminates for any reason, or if there is no surviving presumptive dependent spouse at the time of the death of the employee, but there is at either time one or more presumptive dependent children, the compensation shall be paid to the children as a class, each child sharing equally with the others. Each child shall receive compensation until the child reaches the age of eighteen or dies before reaching age eighteen, provided the child shall continue to receive compensation up to the attainment of the age of twenty-two if unmarried and a full-time student, except any child who has attained the age of twenty-two while a full-time student but has not completed the requirements for, or received, a degree from a postsecondary educational institution shall be deemed not to have attained age twenty-two until the first day of the first month following the end of the quarter or semester in which he is enrolled at the time, or if he is not enrolled in a quarter or semester system, until the first day of the first month following the completion of the course in which he is enrolled or until the first day of the third month beginning after such time, whichever occurs first. When a child's participation ceases, his share shall be divided among the remaining eligible dependent children, provided if any child, when he reaches the age of eighteen years, is physically or mentally incapacitated from earning, his right to compensation shall not terminate but shall continue for the full period of incapacity.

(6) In all cases where there are no presumptive dependents, but where there are one or more persons wholly dependent in fact, the compensation in case of death shall be divided according to the relative degree of their dependence. Compensation payable under this subdivision shall be paid for not more than three hundred and twelve weeks from the date of the death of the employee. The compensation, if paid to those wholly dependent in fact, shall be paid at the full compensation rate. The compensation, if paid to those partially dependent in fact upon the deceased employee as of the date of the injury, shall not, in total, be more than the full compensation rate nor less than twenty dollars weekly, nor, if the average weekly sum contributed by the deceased at the date of the injury to those partially dependent in fact is more than twenty dollars weekly, not more than the sum so contributed.

(7) When the sole presumptive dependents are, at the time of the injury, nonresident aliens and the deceased has in this state some person or persons who are dependent in fact, the commissioner may in his discretion equitably apportion the sums payable as compensation to the dependents.

Sec. 3. Section 31-307a of the general statutes, as amended by section 4 of public act 97-205, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained on or after October 1, 1969, and before July 1, 1993, which totally disables the employee continuously or intermittently for any period extending to the following October first or thereafter, shall be adjusted annually as provided in this subsection as of the following October first, and each subsequent October first, to provide the injured employee with a cost-of-living adjustment in his weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of the injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under the provisions of section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing as of the date of the injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive at the date of the injury OR OCTOBER 1, 1990, WHICHEVER IS LATER, shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of section 31-309 from the date of the injury OR OCTOBER 1, 1990, WHICHEVER IS LATER, to such October first. The cost-of-living increases provided under this subsection shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with the October first next succeeding the date of the injury.

(b) The weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained prior to October 1, 1969, which has disabled the employee for a period extending to October 1, 1969, or thereafter shall be adjusted as of October 1, 1969, and annually thereafter, as provided in this subsection to provide the injured employee with a partial cost-of-living adjustment in his weekly compensation rate. The weekly compensation rate paid prior to October 1, 1969, to the injured employee shall be increased as of October 1, 1969, by the amount that the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under section 31-309 to be effective for injuries sustained on or after October 1, 1969, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under section 31-309 to be effective for injuries sustained on or after October 1, 1965, or the date of the injury, whichever is later, but not more than fifteen dollars per week. Thereafter, increases, if any, for cost-of-living as provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be added to the amount of weekly compensation payable as of the date of the injury [and the initial adjustment provided in this subsection] OR OCTOBER 1, 1990, WHICHEVER IS LATER. The partial cost-of-living adjustments provided under this subsection shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next twelve-month period, on or after October 1, 1969. The cost of the adjustments shall be paid by the employer or his insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed therefor from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require.

(c) On and after the effective date of [this act] PUBLIC ACT 97-205, the weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained on or after July 1, 1993, which totally incapacitates the employee permanently, shall be adjusted as provided in this subsection as of October 1, 1997, or the October first following the injury date, whichever is later, and annually on each subsequent October first, to provide the injured employee with a cost-of-living adjustment in his weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate, as determined under the provisions of said section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing as of the date of injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive as of the date of injury shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of said section 31-309 from the date of the injury to such October first. The cost-of-living adjustments provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with October 1, 1997, or the October first next succeeding the date of injury, whichever is later. With respect to any employee receiving benefits on October 1, 1997, with respect to any such injury occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, or with respect to any employee who was adjudicated to be totally incapacitated permanently subsequent to the date of his injury or is totally incapacitated permanently due to the fact that the employee has been totally incapacitated by such an injury for a period of five years or more, such benefit shall be recalculated to October 1, 1997, to the date of such adjudication or to the end of such five-year period, as the case may be, as if such benefits had been subject to recalculation annually under the provisions of this subsection. The difference between the amount of any benefits which would have been paid to such employee if such benefits had been subject to such recalculation and the actual amount of benefits paid during the period between such injury and such recalculation shall be paid to the dependent not later than December 1, 1997, or thirty days after such adjudication or the end of such period, as the case may be, in a lump-sum payment. The employer or his insurer shall be reimbursed by the Second Injury Fund, as provided in section 31-354, for adjustments, including lump-sum payments, payable under this subsection for compensable injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require.

Sec. 4. Not later than sixty days after the effective date of this act, the weekly benefit of any person receiving benefits pursuant to section 31-306 of the general statutes, as amended by this act, or section 31-307a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, shall be recalculated to the effective date of this act as if such benefits had been subject to recalculation annually according to the provisions of said sections. Not later than sixty days after the effective date of this act, any employer, insurer or other party responsible for providing weekly benefits pursuant to said sections shall begin providing such benefits at the recalculated rate. Such recalculated weekly benefits shall commence at the beginning of a full week.

Sec. 5. Section 31-349e of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

There shall be an advisory board for the Second Injury Fund to advise the custodian of the Second Injury Fund on matters concerning administration, operation, claim handling and finances of the fund. On or before July 1, 1995, the Treasurer shall appoint six of the eight members to the board. Three members shall represent employers and insurers who pay assessments to the fund pursuant to section 31-354. Three such members shall represent employees receiving benefits paid or reimbursed by the fund. The two remaining members shall be the chairmen of the labor and public employees committee of the General Assembly or their designees. The six members appointed by the Treasurer shall be appointed for a term of four years from January first in the year of their appointment. Any vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term in the same manner as the original appointment. All members shall serve without compensation. The board shall elect a chairman from among its members. The Treasurer shall provide such staff as is necessary for the performance of the functions and duties of the board. The board shall meet at least twice a year. All actions of the board shall require an affirmative vote of six members, OR THEIR DESIGNEES, of the board. The board may adopt any rules of procedure that it deems necessary to carry out its duties.

Sec. 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 1998, except that section 1 shall take effect October 1, 1998.


State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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