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However, the department’s goal is to avoid cuts that would jeopardize Oregon’s stable and cost-effective workers’ compensation system.

What is the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment?

The Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment pays for a variety of programs that help injured workers and employers. The Workers’ Benefit Fund provides benefit increases to permanently and totally disabled workers and to families of workers who died as the result of a workplace injury or disease, to reflect improvements to benefits and changes in average wages. The fund also supports Oregon’s highly successful return-to-work programs that help injured workers return to work quickly and, on average, earn more than their pre-injury wages. The assessment is paid one-half by employers and one-half by workers, and has not increased in the past eight years.

When do the new rates take effect?

The pure premium rate decrease and the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. The Department of Consumer and Business Services will hold a hearing to invite public comment on the proposed premium assessment rate Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 2 p.m. in conference room 260 in the Labor and Industries Building, 350 Winter St. NE in Salem. A final decision will be made in late September, and the rate will be effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Will workers’ compensation costs increase in the future?

Through the Management-Labor Advisory Committee, the Department of Consumer and Business Services continues to work with employers and workers to monitor the system and evaluate areas of potential improvement. The department also continues to work on improving workplace safety to keep injury and illness rates down.

However, the system remains susceptible to outside pressures, such as the increasing cost of health care, which could put upward pressure on the pure premium rate.



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