NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
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The Washington Post recently published a story about an emerging trend among senior citizens: worker camps. As life expectancy continues to rise and social security benefits stagnate, more and more would-be retirees find they lack the retirement savings to provide for themselves and their lifestyles. The number of senior workers in the United States has more than doubled since the year 2000, and now nearly 20% of Americans over 65 are working. Contributing factors for this phenomenon are the 2008 recession, a shift from pensions to worker-based retirement programs, such as 401(k)’s, and rising costs of healthcare.
“Workampers” is the appellation for a growing group of seniors who have adopted an itinerant lifestyle of traveling the nation’s highways, often in an RV (hence the nickname), driving state to state looking for seasonal employment. The jobs are typically low-paying and devoid of benefits but are increasingly necessary to an expanding class of citizens who simply do not have the retirement savings to provide for themselves in their final years.
As the work camp movement spreads, it can be expected to generate confusion in states’ workers’ compensation programs. “Workampers” routinely travel between states seeking employment, leading to inevitable disputes over which state’s work comp program has jurisdiction over a particular claim. Beyond that, the seasonal nature of the employment will almost surely complicate calculation of a given worker’s average weekly wage and, by extension, the value of his or her weekly benefits. Finally, as employees age, they naturally become more susceptible to workplace illness and injury, which means that as more seniors opt to postpone retirement—by choice or out of necessity—a rise in overall work comp claims can also be anticipated.