Home > Defenses, Tactics and Strategy, Temporary Disability > Immigration Status Bars Total TD Again!

Immigration Status Bars Total TD Again!

Recently, your keen-nosed blogger had sniffed out and reported on a case in which a workers’ compensation Judge had awarded an applicant total temporary disability when her employer could not offer her work because, as it turned out, she was in the country illegally.

It appears that the Cubedo decision was not an isolated case but rather the start of what could well be the policy of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.  Though no binding authority by any means, a workers’ compensation defense attorney should be well advised of this possible defense.  Recently, a panel rescinded a WCJ’s award of total temporary disability because any sort of employment: regular, modified, or even alternative, was prohibited by the law after the discovery that applicant was in the country illegally (much like Ms. Cubedo).

In the case of Martin Esparza v. Barrett Business Services the WCAB held that applicant’s inability to work, due to his immigration status, does not render him TTD, and so applicant gets nothing (at least no type of temporary disability benefits).

TTD is not a forgiving fox once let into the hen-house, and the defense attorney dodged a big bullet for his client in this case.  But before the defense community erupts in a choreographed dance number all over the state to celebrate this decision, I urge you to consider two potential dangers on the horizon.

First of all, employers face the risk of prosecution for hiring illegal immigrants.  Some employers think they can turn a blind eye when hiring a new employee, especially to the more glaring social security and application frauds, then suddenly see the light when it comes time to pay out after an injury.  Sooner or later the federal government will decide to refill its coffers through fines and penalties, and employers are always a juicy target.  In other words, be careful who you hire – temporary disability might turn out to be the least of your concerns!

The federal government isn’t the only one with coffers to fill.  If you saw yesterday’s post, you know that California is going to have three more WCJ salaries and pensions to fund.  The state has already created a Death Without Dependents unit to pick the pockets of dead employees and leave their relatives out in the cold.  The state can just as easily create a unit to collect temporary disability that would go unpaid because of immigration status.  And, as DWD generally collects the maximum death benefit for a spouse with no children, a unit of this sort could collect 104 weeks of TTD.

One way or another, by hard-working readers, either California, or the United States Government (or both) will get it’s “due.”

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