Workers' Compensation Reforms by State

Over the past decade, states across the country have been unwinding a century-old compact with America’s workers: A guarantee that if you are injured on the job, your employer will pay your medical bills and enough of your wages to help you get by. In all, 33 states have passed laws that reduce benefits, create hurdles to getting medical care or make it more difficult to qualify for workers’ comp." Related Story »

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See Which States

Cut Benefits
Stayed the Same
Raised Benefits
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Raised Benefits Cut Benefits


Over the past 10 months, ProPublica has analyzed reams of insurance industry data, studied arcane state laws, and interviewed hundreds of workers, businesses, attorneys, policymakers, doctors and insurance experts. Journalists obtained often confidential medical and court records and reported on the ground in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

To track the impact of the reforms nationwide for this graphic, ProPublica assigned a starting value for each state by combining a ranking of average statutory benefits conducted by Actuarial & Technical Solutions of Bohemia, N.Y., and a report from the U.S. Department of Labor that monitored how many recommendations of a 1972 presidential commission on workers’ comp that each state was following. ProPublica then analyzed state reform laws, using data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance Annual Statistical Bulletin, which rates the effects of legislation on benefit payments. In addition, ProPublica consulted reports from the Workers Compensation Research Institute and conducted interviews with stakeholders to determine how the changes compared to the historical norms provided by state workers’ comp systems.

This chart tracks the changes to the major medical and wage-replacement replacement benefits in workers’ comp. States may have adopted additional legislation that is not included here because it didn’t affect the core benefits.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Labor, Actuarial & Technical Solutions, National Council on Compensation Insurance, Workers Compensation Research Institute, ProPublica research on state reform laws.

NOTE: The position of states in the maps on this page are modified from The Washington Post and are used here with permission.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this graphic did not take into account two bills in Oregon. Both are now included in the graphic and the color codes for Oregon have been updated.