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Applying for Special Disability Fund? Make sure you fill out forms correctly

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Employers and workers’ compensation carriers can sometimes be partially reimbursed for workers’ comp payments if prior injuries contributed to an employee’s inability to work. But applying to the Special Disability Fund requires careful completion of the application forms—the agency that handles such requests is often a stickler for details, and courts usually uphold the agency’s decisions.

Recent case: James Vinovrski worked for Innovative Chemical Corporation until he hurt himself at work. The injury affected his left forearm and his neck, leaving him with “complex regional pain syndrome” and depression.

After two years, Innovative Chemical and its workers’ compensation carrier filed an application with the Special Disability Fund, alleging that Vinovrski had a prior knee injury. The fund rejected the application because it wasn’t very specific. The application didn’t give any details, even though the instructions said to “set forth in detail” the prior injury. Simply stating “knee (1986) asthma” was not good enough.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, refused to overturn the decision. It upheld the agency’s right to dismiss the application because it was incomplete. (In the Matter of James Vinovrski v. Innovative Chemical, No. 502483, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, 2007)

Final note: It may be a good idea to have counsel review your Special Disability Fund applications.

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