My work as a Workers Compensation Consultant in California has me working with workers who are injured performing some of the most labor intensive and back breaking type of occupations.
Trust me when I say that none of my injured workers want to be off of work, where the maximum benefits they can receive while on disability is $336 per week. Once they are medically released the can receive $246 per week. Therefore, the Jeff Bagwell disability claim caught my attention because of the astronomical (no pun intended) disability benefits associated with the claim.
The sport of baseball has routinely obtained disability coverage for their players and the Astros paid $2,409,343 in premiums for such coverage on Bagwell. Jeff Bagwell made about $18 million last year.
$86K a day!
The disabilty coverage for Bagwell means that the Houston Astros are to receive $85,748 for each regular season day that Mr. Bagwell misses due to his total disability.
Under normal circumstances in any Workers Compensation claim the employer is required to explore Modified or Alternate work assignments, this is called "reasonable accomodation". The worker is often provided assignments that fall within their current physical restrictions.
The offer of Modified or Alaternate work can be permanent or temporary and it is designed to provide the injured worker the ability to continue working and therefore minimize their loss of earnings, since they can not be paid less than 15% of their pre-injury wages. A worker who returns to modified or alternate employement who is not at home on disability also contributes to the employers bottom line thus making it a win-win situation.
Unfortunately for the insurance carrier, the Huston Astros play in the National League, where there is no provision for a "designated hitter". In looking into Bagwell's disability his physical restrictions would likely prevent him from throwing a baseball, but he could potentially be offered a modified or alternate position which would allow him only to bat.
However, the "designated hitter" option is only available in the American League and thus such "reasonable accommodation" can't be made for Mr. Bagwell.
I wonder how much an actuary would rate premiums for my star programmer who just injured his hand playing bass guitar in his rock band?