May 4, 2012
DiNapoli: State Paid Inmates More Than $36K in Improper Workers' Compensation Benefits
Cross-Checking Data Would Eliminate Payments And Cut Insurance Premium Costs for Businesses
The State Insurance Fund improperly paid seven inmates more than $36,000 in workers' compensation benefits while they were in state prison, according to an examination released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
"Simply stated, inmates serving felony time are not entitled to a dime of workers' compensation benefits. These payments are indefensible and should have been stopped," DiNapoli said. "The Workers' Compensation Board owes it to businesses and taxpayers to put stronger internal controls in place. New York state businesses can't afford to pay higher insurance premiums to cover the cost of these inappropriate payments."
Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses. Inmates serving jail time for felony convictions are not eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits. While the State Insurance Fund is a state agency, it is also the state's largest workers' compensation insurance carrier.
DiNapoli's office cross-checked claimants approved for workers' compensation benefits with the Department of Correction and Community Supervision's inmate file and reviewed benefit payments made by the state for three years ending September 2011. They found seven inmates were paid more than $36,000 by the State Insurance Fund.
Another 193 inmates may also have been inappropriately compensated, but because their benefits are paid by private insurance carriers, DiNapoli's examiners could not access those payment records.
DiNapoli advised the Workers' Compensation Board to share information about the 193 inmates with those private insurers so they could identify and recover inappropriate payments. He also recommended that the Board board periodically cross-check benefit recipients with inmate files and that the State Insurance Fund continue its efforts to recover the inappropriate payments.
For a copy of the report, go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/2011-0030-WCB.pdf.