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How does Oklahoma's workers' comp system work?

Workers' compensation is an insurance program that Oklahoma employers must participate in so they can pay for the needs of employees who are injured on the job.
by Randy Ellis Published: February 3, 2013
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Battles over workers' compensation reform have become an annual ritual in the Oklahoma Legislature.

But what is workers' compensation and how does it work?

Basically, workers' compensation is a mandatory insurance program that Oklahoma employers must participate in so they can pay for the needs of employees who are injured on the job.

With few exceptions, employers are required to carry insurance to pay for the necessary medical treatment of employees who are hurt while working.

Following is a summary of some of the other benefits available and descriptions of how the system works derived from information on the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court website, www.owcc.state.ok.us.

In addition to medical benefits, if an employee's injury renders the person unable to work for more than seven calendar days, the worker also becomes eligible for temporary total disability benefits. These benefits pay a weekly benefit of 70 percent of the worker's average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount equal to the state's average weekly wage. The benefits are paid while the person remains unable to work, but are generally limited to three years.

If an injury results in a permanent partial impairment that limits a person's ability to do certain work, the worker becomes eligible for additional payments that are determined by the type of injury. The worker also may be eligible for educational assistance and training benefits to learn another job.

If an injury leaves a worker permanently unable to work, the employee becomes eligible for permanent total disability benefits that are paid for 15 years or until the person reaches the age of maximum Social Security retirement benefits, whichever comes first.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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