Workers’ compensation helps to make up for lost wages and expenses related to a work injury, but the goal is to get you back to work and off benefits. Some injuries may cause a permanent disability that makes it difficult for you to return to work. If that disability is also total, meaning that it prevents you from returning to your former position, then it is even more difficult for you to return to work.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development explains that workers who stay on workers’ compensation benefits long term increase costs for the system and often find it impossible to be able to work again. To help reduce costs for the workers’ compensation system and assist workers disabled from work injures to return to the workforce, there is a Second Injury Fund.
The Second Injury Fund began in the 1920s. The idea behind the fund is to take over payments from employers for workers who receive total permanent disability benefits. The benefits you receive from this fund are the same as those paid through workers’ compensation, but it does not provide death benefits.
Generally, the benefits from this fund are lifetime, but they may end if you no longer qualify for total and permanent disability. You also must remain unemployed, except for rare situations where you can show that you cannot earn as much as you did in your position prior to your injury.
You must have a total and permanent disability ruling on your claim. Your disability must be the result of a work injury. In addition, you must have a pre-existing permanent partial disability, but it does not have to be work related.