MBA president-elect testifies at workers' compensation hearing

Issue November 2013 By Josh Crawford

Massachusetts Bar Association President-elect Marsha V. Kazarosian testified last month in support of MBA-backed legislation increasing burial benefits covered by workers' compensation from $4,000 to $8,000.

The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development convened Tuesday, Oct. 8, to hear testimony on a number of House and Senate bills dealing with workers' compensation. Kazarosian was one of the first to testify, and explained that Massachusetts lags behind many states in the burial benefits allowed under workers' compensation. The last time Massachusetts raised burial benefits, upping them from $2,000 to $4,000, was in 1992. At the time this was the average cost of burying a loved one; however that cost has doubled in the 21 years since. The $8,000 sought in Senate Bill 866 and House Bill 1698 reflects that increase in cost.

"Doubling the burial benefit to $8,000 will do much to alleviate the financial burden for families who are faced with the shocking and sudden death of a loved one while on the job," said Kazarosian, during her testimony. "Support for working families should not end when someone dies on the job; that's precisely when they need it the most."

Family members of victims of workplace accidents, representatives from Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and the Massachusetts Association of Trial Attorneys also testified in support of the measure.

Both Senate Chairman Daniel A. Wolf (D-Harwich) and House Chairman Thomas P. Conroy (D-Wayland) backed the legislation and stated that the Joint Committee has sent the legislation out favorably in the past.