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State improperly paid workers’ comp to inmates

New York state paid seven inmates more than $36,000 in workers’ compensation benefits while they were in prison even though they weren’t eligible, according to an examination by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.


The audit found that the State Insurance Fund, the agency that administers the state’s workers’ compensation program and in some cases also acts as the insurer that pays claims, approved and paid benefits in those cases.


Auditors also said private insurers may have paid far more in cases where the state only approved benefits, but didn’t actually pay them out, although the inmates weren’t eligible since they were in prison for felonies.


DiNapoli’s office identified another 193 inmates the state approved for worker’s compensation. But the comptroller wasn’t able to obtain information about claims, since their benefits were paid by private insurance carriers or self-insured companies.


DiNapoli’s office found errors by cross-checking claimants approved for benefits with the Department of Correction and Community Supervision’s inmate file and payments by the state for three years ending September 2011.