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Revised form proposed for hurt workers

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People who receive money from the state's Employers' Reinsurance Fund may be asked a few more questions under proposed revisions to the information form.

The Utah Labor Commission's Workers Compensation Advisory Council failed to agree on a new form to be sent to recipients of fund benefits, but the form probably will be changed to reflect ideas from council members.Utah Labor Commissioner R. Lee Ellertson has the authority to issue a new form, but he wanted to get comments from council members. He received plenty.

Some council members said the expanded form is an invasion of privacy, some said it goes too far in requesting information about the permanently and totally disabled workers receiving benefits from the fund, and some were concerned that a lawyer will be needed to help fill out the form.

Joyce Sewell, director of the commission's Industrial Accidents Division, said the old form, which is mailed to fund recipients annually, essentially asks whether they are alive or dead. She said the forms are required by the state auditor, and the new form would help determine if the recipients still qualify for benefits.

Some fund recipients, she said, have indicated they might be able to leave the fund and go back to work, so the commission needs to know the current status of the 1,800 recipients.

Aside from the reporting of name, address, Social Security number and telephone number, the proposed form would ask for the date of the industrial injury, the date of the last doctor visit, information on any earned income, a copy of a tax return, the date when Social Security benefits first were paid and an authorization for the commission to obtain medical, wage-related and vocational rehabilitation records.

Jinks Dabney, a council member and an attorney who represents injured workers before the commission, said the new form will allow the agency to revisit the finding of why the person received fund benefits in the first place.

He also wondered if the fund would pay attorney fees if a recipient needs help from an attorney to fill out the form.

Council member Tim Allen said the form doesn't need to be sent to all 1,800 recipients because many of them are old and obviously wouldn't be returning to work or receiving income from other sources.

Attorney David Bird suggested the new form be mailed to fund recipients with some changes suggested by the council.