One of the elements of workers’ compensation law that is not often discussed is what happens when a worker is injured, and he or she has a pre-existing disability?

What is a Subsequent Injury Fund?

California workers’ compensation laws has what is called the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF). The SIBTF is a fund that is used to encourage employers in California to hire applicants who are disabled. The SIBTF allows employers to hire disabled workers without the employer assuming responsibility for the entirety of the pre-existing disability.

 The SIBTF is also used to encourage Californian’s with disabilities to enter the workforce. SIBTF benefits are paid to injured workers, and compensates them for the pre-existing disability.

Do I qualify for SIBTF Benefits?

In order to qualify for SIBTF benefits, you must meet the requirements of Labor Code 4751. This code requires that:

  •         You have a pre-existing disability and have suffered a subsequent compensable injury.
  •         The degree of disability caused by both disabilities together is greater than the subsequent injury alone.
  •         The combined injury (pre-existing disability and subsequent injury) must be equal to, or greater than, 70 percent.
  •         Your condition meets one of the following:

o   The pre-existing disability must affect an arm, hand, leg, foot, or eye, and the subsequent injury affects the opposite side of the same body part. The disability from the subsequent injury must be equal to, or greater than, five percent.

o    The disability from the subsequent injury alone (without consideration for age or adjustment for the occupation) must be equal to, or greater than, 35 percent.

The best way to find out if you qualify for SIBTF benefits is to speak with a California workers’ compensation attorney.