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Workers’ Compensation: What Is the Second Injury Fund?

Injured worker with a neck brace and arm sling talking to someone in a suit.

Any employee can be at risk of sustaining an injury while at work. Though some jobs and industries are more dangerous than others, no one is completely safe all of the time. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is available when injuries occur and most people are familiar with the basics of how it works. But you probably haven’t heard of the Second Injury Fund.

The Second Injury Fund explained

New Jersey wanted to encourage employers to hire individuals with a previously existing disability. The Second Injury Fund was created to further this goal. It’s targeted at employees who have already suffered a debilitating injury or condition but who choose to continue working. The previous injury does not have to be work-related – it can be any disability.

The Second Injury Fund is a resource additional to workers’ compensation and is not paid by the employer. Should a disabled employee suffer an injury while at work, and become permanently disabled as a result, this is when the Second Injury Fund is implicated. The employee will still collect workers’ compensation benefits like any other person. However, once those benefits run out, they may continue to collect benefits from the Second Injury Fund – potentially for the remainder of their life.

Second Injury Fund benefits do not run concurrently with workers’ compensation. They only begin after workers’ compensation benefits have ended. It’s important to note that collecting Social Security Disability benefits can offset funds received from the Second Injury Fund. And the existence of the previously existing disability can complicate exactly how much is awarded through workers’ compensation. If you are disabled and suffer a work-related injury, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable professional to help you navigate the process.