A liberal-leaning think-tank in Iowa City has released a report suggesting Iowans who suffer serious shoulder injuries on the job will receive far less in worker’s compensation benefits today than they would have a couple of years ago. Matthew Glasson of the University of Iowa Labor Center helped draft the Iowa Public Policy Project report.

“Shoulders turn out to be a fairly common body part to be injured, particularly in people who work in competitive-motion jobs,” Glasson says.

In 2017, the Republican-led Iowa legislature changed the way workers comp pay-outs are calculated. Glasson concluded that because of that change, a worker will be paid on average about $72,000 less in workers compensation benefits for a serious shoulder injury.

Under the old system, a doctor evaluated the worker’s physical impairment, then factors like the person’s age, work experience and education were considered “for the purpose of trying to project the impact of the physical injury on the person’s ability to try to earn a living,” Glasson says, “so what the legislature did was say from now on, we’re not going to look at any of those factors. We’re just going to look at the physical impact to the person’s shoulder.”

A University of Iowa history professor and a research assistant in the University of Iowa Labor Center also worked on the report. It found most workers who seek compensation for a job-related shoulder injury are men over the age of 50 who have not attended college.