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Don't Overlook the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund

By Amy C. Leung, Esq.

What is the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund?

According to California's Department of Industrial Relations, the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) provides  additional compensation for some disabled workers who are injured on the job and have a prior disability.  Created in 1945, the SIBTF encourages employers to hire disabled workers without the worry of being fully responsible for pre-existing disabilities. In addition, it encourages workers with pre-existing disabilities to seek employment.

Subsequent Injury Benefits

Many people find the term "subsequent injury" perplexing, and confuse it with "pre-existing disability." The latter can be either industrial or non-industrial, whereas the "subsequent" injury must be industrial.

The injury is considered "subsequent" because the injured person must have a disability that pre-exists the subsequent injury.

How Do you Qualify for the SIBTF?

Qualifying for the SIBTF can be complicated, which is why usually only injured workers represented by an attorney apply.  To qualify for SIBTF benefits, the work injury and pre-existing disability must, when combined, equal at least 70 percent permanent disability.   The new work injury must cause at least 35 percent permanent disability without any adjusting factors that come into play, with some exceptions. 

This is outlined in Labor Code 4751. In addition to the 70 percent permanent disability requirement, it states the following:

  • The employee must have a pre-existing permanent partial disability which may be industrial or non-industrial in origin.
  • The employee must have a subsequent industrial disability.
  • The two disabilities combined must be greater than what the employee's disability would have been if the employee suffered only the subsequent and not the pre-existing disability.

The legislative intent of this law is that an injured worker with a pre-existing disability or impairment should have an opportunity to seek and obtain gainful employment within their skill set.

If an injured worker qualifies for the subsequent injury trust fund, the State of California will help make up the difference between the person's overall disability and the amount of disability from the "subsequent" work injury alone.

The SIBTF Application Process

SIBTF is a legally valid and potentially significant source of additional Workers' Compensation benefits in California. However, the application process for SIBTF benefits is complicated. Social Security Disability or disability pension benefits come into play, and there is legal and medical evidence that must be taken into account. There are also various exceptions. But even though this is a very complex area of Workers' Compensation law, this permanent injury benefit is well worth exploring with the guidance of an experienced, knowledgeable attorney.

The lawyers at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK) are well-versed in the intricacies of the SIBTF and the SIBTF benefits available. We have successfully identified and obtained valuable SIBTF benefits for seriously injured workers. If you would like to speak with a GEK attorney about your legal options, please call 213-739-7000 or click here. 

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