FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2018
House Updates the Alaska Worker’s Compensation System
HB 38 Adjusts Benefits to Account for Decades of Inflation
Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) adjusting worker’s compensation benefits for both Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) and death benefits. These benefits have not changed to adjust for inflation for approximately 20 and 50 years, respectively. House Bill 38 would increase the PPI index from $177,000 to $255,506 and requires annual updates to account for inflation. The bill also adjusts the death benefit for financial dependents from the current $20,000 set in 1968 to $100,000.
“This bill is a question of justice. While nothing can replace a loved one who dies on the job, a financial calamity for the deceased’s dependents is not a necessary evil,” said Rep. Josephson, “When the legislature last addressed fatality benefits, it was 1968, and $20,000 went far further than it does in 2018. This bill increases that benefit to $100,000, which still has only about two-thirds of the purchasing power of the original $20,000 in 1968.”
In addition to the increase in death benefits for dependents, HB 38 would provide a more modest death benefit to the families of workers who do not have dependents. Today, the parents of a young person who dies on the job, for instance, would only receive up to $10,000 for funeral costs; this bill would provide a benefit of up to $70,000.
“It is difficult to place a price on permanent disability, but we did 18 years ago. Since then we have not updated that figure by a single dollar,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks). “A permanent disability today is as tragic and frustrating as it was in 2000, and the compensation should retain its value by adjusting for inflation. I am proud that we have passed legislation to adjust the current amount and solve the problem into the future.”
House Bill 38 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 21-19. The bill now goes to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.