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Understanding Missouri’s Second Injury Fund

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance allowing workers to claim compensation for any work-related illnesses or injuries. However, there can be instances where a worker sustains a work-related injury that coincides with another earlier injury incurred outside of work. It can be devastating if the combination of a preexisting injury and a work-related injury both lead to the permanent disability of a worker. In these circumstances, workers’ compensation alone may not be enough to cover the worker’s medical expenses.

Fortunately, Missouri has a Second Injury Fund (SIF) that can help pay for these compound injuries that can lead to disabilities. How does the SIF work, and when can you file for a claim under the SIF?

Who can file a claim with the SIF?

By state law, employees with a medically documented preexisting disability equivalent to at least 50 weeks of permanent partial disability can file a claim for permanent total disability with the SIF. However, the disability must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The preexisting disability is the result of active military duty.
  • Or it resulted from a previous compensable injury under state compensation law.
  • The preexisting disability must directly and considerably worsen the subsequent work-related injury suffered by the worker.

Alternatively, a worker can file a claim with the SIF if their subsequent compensable work-related injury, combined with their preexisting injury, led to permanent total disability.

What else can the SIF pay for?

In addition to covering combined injuries, the SIF can also pay for medical treatment if an employer doesn’t have mandatory workers’ compensation insurance. The fund also covers a worker’s lost wages at a second job for an injury sustained at their first job.

Workers interested in claiming SIF compensation only have two years after the date of their work-related injury or within a year after filing a workers’ compensation claim against their employer to file a claim with the fund, whichever is later. But while the deadline to file a claim with the SIF is tighter than the one to file a regular workers’ compensation claim, workers shouldn’t try to rush. They should consider consulting with an attorney to determine if they can claim with the SIF. An attorney can also help ensure that the worker’s claim goes through if any disputes arise.