Mayor Balances Budget on the Backs of Injured Workers

The workers compensation program for D.C. government employees has been fraught with problems for decades, often driving middle-class injured workers into poverty. But in recent years, injured government workers have made some significant gains, due largely to the work of the Injured Workers Advocates and the DC Employment Justice Center. Now those gains are at risk as the Disability Compensation Program, which serves more than 2000 workers a year, is on the DC Councils budget chopping block. Proposed changes include narrowing the scope of injuries covered, an arbitrary 10-year cap on benefits, refusing payment for pre-existing conditions, preference to a government doctor over an injured workers during evaluations and financially penalizing claimants for appealing a decision. Proposing these changes as part of the annual budgetary process is irresponsible and unwise, says Courtney Chappell, Director of Advocacyfor the DC Employment Justice Center, explaining that it undermines the overall integrity of the legislative process, and will have adverse long-term consequences for District government workers. When workers are disabled on the job, their only source of income is likely from the Disability Compensation Program, adds Gaynell Nixon, of the DC Injured Workers Advocates. The DC Council cannot balance the budget on the backs of injured workers.rnThe workers compensation program for D.C. government employees has been fraught with problems for decades, often driving middle-class injured workers into poverty. But in recent years, injured government workers have made some significant gains, due largely to the work of the Injured Workers Advocates and the DC Employment Justice Center. Now those gains are at risk as the Disability Compensation Program, which serves more than 2000 workers a year, is on the DC Councils budget chopping block. Proposed changes include narrowing the scope of injuries covered, an arbitrary 10-year cap on benefits, refusing payment for pre-existing conditions, preference to a government doctor over an injured workers during evaluations and financially penalizing claimants for appealing a decision. Proposing these changes as part of the annual budgetary process is irresponsible and unwise, says Courtney Chappell, Director of Advocacyfor the DC Employment Justice Center, explaining that it undermines the overall integrity of the legislative process, and will have adverse long-term consequences for District government workers. When workers are disabled on the job, their only source of income is likely from the Disability Compensation Program, adds Gaynell Nixon, of the DC Injured Workers Advocates. The DC Council cannot balance the budget on the backs of injured workers.rn

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