7.14.2010

New Proposed Rules Governing Reactivation of Claims and Payment of Amputation/Loss of Use Awards

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation announced proposed amendments to Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) sections 4123-3-15 and 4123-3-37. The amendments would increase the time before a claim becomes inactive from 13 months to 24 months. The amendments would also change the procedure for amputation/loss of use awards. The revised rule would permit payment of the award based on information contained in the claim file (such as the initial injury report) and change the method of payment to pay the award as a lump sum.

According to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the current 13 month timeframe in OAC 4123-3-15 for a claim to become inactive is too short. After an evaluation, the Bureau determined that a 24 month timeframe will result in increased system efficiency and reduce overall administrative resources necessary to review and respond to reactivation requests.

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is also eliminating language in OAC 4123-3-37 regarding lump sum advancements in permanent partial awards as these are to be addressed under a new section, OAC 4123-3-15(C). This section would allow for payment of an award for amputation or loss of use of a body part to be paid to an injured worker for the full amount of the award, as opposed to the current bi-weekly payments. This section has already been revised since its initial draft to allow for continued bi-weekly payments while an order to pay the award is on appeal. One issue which has not yet been resolved, and which may be a major sticking point with the proposed rule, is the conflict the new OAC 4123-3-15(C) would have with Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.57(B), which continues to mandate that such awards be paid out on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

As developments arise regarding the proposed amendments, we will provide further information and guidance to assist you. Please contact any of our offices to discuss this matter further with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.

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