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Shifts in Minnesota workers’ compensation claims

Minnesota residents who experience injuries or illnesses related to their jobs should be able to count on workers’ compensation as one form of assistance during these times. The benefits provided through workers’ compensation can include the payment of medical treatments and other costs, lost wages and vocational rehabilitation. Over the years, the state has seen a shift in the number of claims it has received and has paid out.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries shows that in 2011, the state paid out over 21,000 indemnity claims and 72,000 medical claims. That is far less than the number of claims it paid in 1997. That year, there were almost 34,000 indemnity claims and over 135,000 medical claims.

Other statistics from the DLI reported by the Wisconsin Medical Society indicate that while the number of paid claims dropped from 1997 to 2011, the number of disputes lodged increased. Medical claims accounted for the largest increase in disputes with 89 percent more such disputes in 2011 than in 1997. Job rehabilitation training saw a jump in disputes by 60 percent. Benefit discontinuance was involved in 20 percent more disputed cases in 2011 than in 1997. Also in 2011, there were 40 percent more litigated cases regarding workers’ compensation disputes than 15 years prior. Records from the DLI point to a clear reduction in claims payouts right around the time of the recession but are not clear as to whether this was related to the economic downturn or not.

In the year 2011, 67 percent of costs associated with Minnesota’s workers’ compensation program were attributed to benefits payments. The percent of program costs for medical claims grew from 1997 to 2011 while the administrative costs declined.

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