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Rural workers' compensation hearing sites closing in New York

For many years, workers' compensation hearing sites have been scattered throughout New York. Some are concentrated around large cities where many people reside, but others are located in small towns so those who live in rural areas have an easier way to contest denied claims. As the state legislature looks to cut costs, however, some of these rural facilities are getting the boot.

So far, eight workers' compensation customer service centers in rural areas of New York, including one in nearby Monticello, are slated to be shut down. The Workers Compensation Board said the facilities being closed were underused, and closing them will save employers $3,000,000 over the next decade. Those savings, however, likely comes as little consolation to the workers who will now have to drive much further to get to a hearing site.

Those advocating for workers who live in rural areas argue that the state should not make access to hearing sites more difficult for people who are already injured or sick and may have trouble accessing a facility in the first place. Worried that these people will become isolated from their right to a workers' compensation hearing, others have urged the state to reconsider.

Everyone who is injured on the job and has had a workers' compensation claim denied has the right to challenge it. Unfortunately, state lawmakers are making this process much more difficult for New York residents who live in rural areas. Hopefully they will find a way to ensure that these people have the same opportunity as others to appeal a denied claim.

Source: Capital New York, "To cut costs, New York will close workers' comp hearing sites," Jimmy Fielkind, Oct. 4, 2013

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