What is the Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF)?

Workers’ compensation coverage is a standard for most businesses, and employees rely on that coverage when on-the-job injuries happen. What most people don’t know, however, is that there are many variations of benefits that may be awarded to employees based on factors like previous disabilities. One of the often overlooked elements of workers’ compensation benefit programs is the Subsequent Injury Fund, or SIF.

What is a Subsequent Injury Fund?

California law has what is called the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF), or more commonly referred to as a Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF). An SIF is a type of benefits provided to employees who are injured while on the job, but who already have a previously diagnosed (pre-existing) disability or impairment.

The purpose of the fund is to enable employers to hire individuals who have disabilities without the fear of being held liable for those injuries if a subsequent injury or disability occurs. The program benefits both employers and employees.

Qualifying for SIF Benefits

We all know that applying for, qualifying for, and obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be a tedious process. While the SIF has been in place in California since 1945, it can still be complicated and tricky to qualify for benefits. In order to qualify, employees must consider the following:

  • There must be a pre-existing impairment or disability that has prevented the individual from accessing employment.
  • There must be a subsequent injury or impairment.
  • The two disabilities or impairments, when combined, must equal at least a 70 percent permanent disability.
  • The subsequent injury must cause at least 35 percent permanent disability without adjusting factors.

Additionally, medical and legal factors will be considered, along with benefits already applied, such as Social Security Disability or pension benefits.

Because of the qualifications process, and medical and legal factors coming into play, it is important to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney before applying for benefits.