The Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF)
Updated: Oct 4, 2018
The Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIBTF) was formerly known as the Subsequent Injuries Fund (SIF). These are complex cases involving catastrophic injuries. A SIF case is present when pre-exisiting disability combines with a subsequent industrial injury to produce a current disability of seventy percent (70%) or more. The idea behind SIF cases is for the State to pay handicapped workers who suffer a subsequent industrial injury. The employer is insulated from liability and thus they are encouraged to hire handicapped or disabled workers.
Specifically, SIF cases provide additional benefits under specified circumstances when an employee with a prior disability suffers a subsequent workplace injury. The SIF provides compensation “for the remainder of the combined permanent disability existing after the last injury” (§ 4751) less the amount of all benefits received by the employee on account of the preexisting disability (§ 4753). The payments come from the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund (SIF), a state supervised trust funded by surcharges imposed upon employers in proportion to their payrolls (§§ 62.5, subds. (d), (e), 4751 et seq.). Thus, for the most serious injuries, the SIF allows the employee to obtain compensation commensurate with his or her overall disability without making the employer liable for more than the amount due for the most recent industrial injury. The purpose of this provision, is to encourage hiring and retention of disabled workers. (State of California v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1957) 147 Cal.App.2d 818, 822, disapproved on other grounds by Subsequent Injuries Fund v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1961) 56 Cal.2d 842, 846.)
Undocumented workers can receive SIBTF benefits. As of September 2015, under Senate Bill No. 623, there is now access for all workers to SIF and UEBTF, regardless of immigration status. SB 623 added Labor code Section 3733 to read: "The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the best interest of the State of California to provide a person, regardless of his or her citizenship or immigration status, with the benefits provided pursuant to this article.."
SIF cases are governed by Labor Code Section 4751 which provides:
If an employee who is permanently partially disabled receives a subsequent compensable injury resulting in additional permanent partial disability so that the degree of disability caused by the combination of both disabilities is greater than that which would have resulted from the subsequent injury alone, and the combined effect of the last injury and the previous disability or impairment is a permanent disability equal to 70 percent or more of total, he shall be paid in addition to the compensation due under this code for the permanent partial disability caused by the last injury compensation for the remainder of the combined permanent disability existing after the last injury as provided in this article; provided, that either (a) the previous disability or impairment affected a hand, an arm, a foot, a leg, or an eye, and the permanent disability resulting from the subsequent injury affects the opposite and corresponding member, and such latter permanent disability, when considered alone and without regard to, or adjustment for, the occupation or age of the employee, is equal to 5 percent or more of total, or (b) the permanent disability resulting from the subsequent injury, when considered alone and without regard to or adjustment for the occupation or the age of the employee, is equal to 35 percent or more of total.