As readers of this blog know, we often post about the Fishermen’s Fund. It was established in Alaska back in 1951 to care for state-licensed commercial fishermen injured offshore or onshore while fishing. These benefits are paid from the fees these fishermen pay for their licenses and permits.
The Fishermen’s Fund is administered by the Alaskan Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and the Fishermen’s Fund Advisory and Appeals Council. The council is composed of a commissioner (or designee) and five members, who are all appointed by the Governor of Alaska.
Getting paid benefits
The Fishermen’s Fund reimburses up to $5,000 for the vessel owner’s deductible, but they must submit proof to receive it. For the fishermen, benefits are paid directly to the medical providers if there is an outstanding balance. However, if the fisherman already paid the medical provider, they can be reimbursed directly, but they must provide copies of the paid medical statements from the provider, receipts, cancelled checks or some other proof of payment.
If the vessel owner pays any of their fishermen’s bills, they can be reimbursed from the Fishermen’s Fund as well. However, they will also need to provide written proof of payment too, including that there was a prior agreement that the vessel owner would pay for medical expenses in advance. Conversely, if the fisherman’s wages were garnished for these payments, the fisherman will be reimbursed.
The benefits timeline
Generally, care is only paid for a single injury for one year and for up to $10,000. However, an extension of time and an increase in the amount can be requested. But, the fisherman, or their representative, must submit a written letter to justify their requested increase, along with a completed Compelling Reasons Questionnaire (Form 07-6124). An Anchorage, Alaska, attorney may be needed in some cases.