Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm in Milwaukee. For many people, “entitlement” is a bad word, but I would argue that is not necessarily the case. A quick Google search shows that the first two definitions aren’t even negative: “the fact of having a right to something” and “the amount to which a person has a right” but the third definition is one that people against investment in social programs cling to: “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” One example of an “entitlement” program not written about below is SNAP: the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. In addition to the obvious benefits of providing food for the needy, SNAP actually keeps up demand for farm products and food, and “every dollar spent on SNAP spurs $1.79 in economic activity,” according to the USDA at this website. And, yes, injured workers and their loved ones often find themselves needing help that SNAP and other social safety nets provide because entitlements that should be found through workers’ compensation fall through. This is especially true when the workers’ compensation system (that has different nuances in each state) fails to provide both needed income and care to injured workers, and the workers and their loved ones suffer, and must turn to other safety nets written about below. I would argue that all are entitled to a safe job and the ability to get compensated and cared for when an injury occurs on the job, and that should be a right, not special treatment.
My business-owning friends harp constantly about “entitlements,” which, they say, cost them money in taxes and premiums. I routinely reply that these programs are a social safety net, the small price we pay to live together relatively peacefully in a “civilized” nation.
My friend and Iowa workers’ comp colleague Paul Mc Andrew sent me an email that sums up this concept succinctly:
Did you know that in 2013, there were more than 25 million reasons to give thanks for social insurance? According to Census Bureau data released this fall, more than 45 million people in the U.S., or 14.5% of the nation, lived in poverty in 2013. The good news? Three vitally important social insurance programs – Social Security, unemployment insurance (UI), and workers’ compensation – and a related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), kept the poverty rate from being much higher. Together, these four programs kept more than 25 million people out of poverty.
Workers’ Compensation alone lifted 87,000 people out of poverty in 2013, including:
- 16,000 children; and
- 60,000 non-elderly adults; and
- 11,000 elderly adults aged 65+
−−Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance
We workers’ comp lawyers can only help one injured workers at a time, but collectively…..