Senate passes key workers’ compensation reform

The state Senate has passed ESB 5513, allowing workers aged 40 and above to enter into structured settlements of workers’ compensation claims. The Associated Press reports

The chamber passed Senate Bill 5513 on a 28-21 vote Tuesday … The bill’s proponents said lowering the age to accept a structured settlement will give injured workers more options to take control of their futures.

Under the current system, the age at which a worker can settle out of a worker’s compensation claim was initially set at 55 and has since moved to 53 on its way to a target age of 50 by 2016. The bill, which goes next to the House, would change the age to 40 later this year.

In our research report, Opportunity Washington wrote:

In 2011, the Legislature allowed workers who are at least 55 years old (dropping to 50 in 2016) to voluntarily settle their claims with structured settlements. Opportunities to build on this reform might include expanding the use of voluntary settlements to workers of any age. Voluntary settlements bring closure for workers and reduce long-duration time-loss claims.

The Senate action advances this worthwhile objective. It’s good work.