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How the Government Shut-Down Impacts L&I

The budget for Washington State is stalled in the legislature after two special legislative sessions.  The State House is controlled by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans.  Each party has put forth their proposed budgets, but nothing has been finalized yet.

The deadline for finalizing the State’s budget is June 30, which is less than two weeks away.  Unless compromise is reached between the House and the Senate, Washington State departments will face shutdown of non-essential services.

What would that mean for injured workers in this State?  The Department of Labor & Industries released a statement recently warning “All workers’ compensation claims that require staff to process will be on hold. That means more than 1,200 injured workers a month with new claims will not receive L&I benefit checks.“  L & I will lay off about 2,800 of their workers and will try to run the agency with about 70 part-time workers to respond to emergencies only.

Injured workers who are unable to work as a result of an on-the-job injury rely on their time loss compensation checks.  These checks, while they don’t completely replace wages, are a lifeline which allows payment of rent and purchase of food – the basic necessities of life.  Often, people in our legislature forget that fact.

While not guaranteed, we do not believe that people on lifetime pensions through the Department of Labor & Industries will have their checks stopped.  However, anyone who is not on regular pension payments with the Department could have their checks stopped until the government is up and running again.

Call your State Senators and Representatives.  Tell them to immediately work towards a compromise so that the state government continues to function.  Tell them that hard-working people in this state will have their lives negatively impacted by a government shutdown.

Go to Find My District to look up your state Senator and Representative.  Then write, email, or call and tell them to get to work, approve a budget, and keep the state running.  Injured workers need and are entitled to their disability payments!

The Everett and Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys at The Walthew Law Firm will continue to oppose business interests and fight for injured workers’ rights in Washington.

Patrick Cook is a partner at The Walthew Law Firm who exclusively represents injured people in Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury matters.

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