When people seek out work in Washington, they do so to make a living. By securing a steady income, workers keep themselves and their families out of poverty. Unfortunately, some jobs contribute to poverty by affecting a worker's health so negatively that they may have a hard time reporting to work and keeping a job.
NBC News states that many low-income Americans find themselves driven further into poverty because of injuries on the job. Middle-class workers are not immune to this either. As several also experience accidents and injuries, the middle class may begin to shrink. However, it is not the accidents or resulting injuries themselves that cause a problem. The real issue lies in the mass decline of benefits payouts.
Thirty-three states either reduced their benefits payouts or made it more difficult for workers to qualify. These changes took place in the past 11 years. Some states set maximums that are extremely low compared to others, even when the injury is serious. For instance, in Pennsylvania, a worker may get a max payment of $261,525 for losing an eye. He can only expect up to $27,280 for the same injury in Alabama.
NPR adds to the report by describing these benefits cuts as a race to the bottom. In fact, the Labor Department has considered intervening by providing greater oversight to workers' compensation. However, insurance companies and employers fear federal intervention. Naturally, they benefit from reduced payouts and would prefer to keep it that way.
Insurance companies claim states know what is best for their own workers. However, many people who lost their employment opportunities due to injuries on the job may disagree.