In a move that will help push the rights of all injured workers forward, Idaho has enacted a new law that will make it easier for firefighters to receive worker’s compensation for cancer claims resulting from exposures on the job. The bill cleared both houses of the state legislature in mid March, and was signed by the Governor on March 31st. The new law changes the way cancer claims will be reviewed, fixing a process which used a standard of proof described by one legislator as “near impossible” for workers to meet.
Firefighters have wanted this change for a long time, and similar measures have been proposed over the past sixteen years. Under the old process, when a firefighter was diagnosed with cancer he or she was required to prove that it was caused by work exposure. The new law includes a list of eleven cancers and specifies that if a firefighter is stricken with any of them, it will be “presumed to be…caused by the firefighter’s employment as a firefighter.” This doesn’t guarantee compensation, but any firefighting agency that wants to avoid paying a claim now has to prove that something else caused the cancer. Lung cancer is not on the list, and using tobacco products exempts firefighters from the new protections.
Cancer is a major cause of illness in the US, and many cases have been traced back to exposure to dangerous substances while on the job. In some cases, however, as with the old Idaho statute, a worker may face the burden of proving that a cancer was caused by an occupational exposure. The rules for cancer claims under worker’s compensation vary from state to state and sometimes by cancer to cancer. They might even be different for different kinds of workers. In Colorado, for example, firefighters can claim bladder cancer as an occupational injury if they have more than five years of service. In California, under certain circumstances a lifeguard can receive worker’s compensation for skin cancer.
The Federal Social Security system, through Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will often pay benefits to workers who have been afflicted with cancer or to their families. A worker who has suffered additional disability as a result of cancer or cancer treatment (such as injuries due to the side effects of chemotherapy) may also be eligible for benefits. These benefits are not delivered automatically, however, and the Social Security Administration sometimes denies claims if they are not documented properly or if some other aspect of the filing process is not completed to their satisfaction.
If you or a member of your family has been injured and is unable to work, temporarily or permanently, it’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable attorney available to help you navigate the benefits system. Whether a worker’s injury has been caused by an accident on the job or through long-term exposure to a dangerous substance, the worker or his or her family is entitled to benefits. Social Security Disability is an insurance program that all workers pay into, and which all workers can expect to be able to lean upon in their time of need.
Craig Swapp & Associates is an experienced Social Security Disability law firm and can help you get past-due benefits as well as future compensation. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case, and we charge you nothing unless the Social Security Administration approves your claim. Call us at 800-404-9000 or contact us online. You can also use the LiveChat feature on any page of our website to ask questions at any time.