The rights of our clients are always under attack. Two more missiles were fired this week. First, the Huffington Post reported that the Trump Administration proposed a new regulation ramping up the number of continuing disability reviews for workers who have been awarded social security disability. The reviews are designed to see if recipients continue to be disabled after they have been awarded disability benefits. Of course, continuing disability reviews already occur, but this proposal would add to the number and frequency of the reviews.
Workers’ compensation attorneys already know how difficult it is for a claimant to qualify for social security disability. We also know that a worker who has been disabled for years is not likely to magically become able to work. Studies already show that 50% of the cost of an occupational injury falls on the injured worker. Cutting injured workers off from social security disability will make that number even more skewed. Also, what happens if you have settled a case with a Medicare set aside account and all of a sudden, your client is no longer entitled to Medicare? You have the MSA, but there is no longer a backstop if the MSA is properly extinguished. Further still, the monies were allocated at the estimated Medicare fee schedule.
Next, you have the White House Office of Management and Budget announced the PEER Initiative (Protecting Employees Enabling Reemployment) for federal civilian workers. The stated goals of PEER are (1) reducing total injury and illness case rates; (2) reducing lost-time injury and illness case rates; (3) increasing the timely filing rate for workers’ compensation claims; (4) increasing the timely filing rate for wage-loss claims; (5) increasing the rate of return-to-work outcomes during the initial 45 day post-injury period for traumatic injury cases; (6) improving the rate at which employees return to return to work in cases of moderate to severe injury or illness; and (7) implementing and fully using the Department of Labor’s electronic filing system.
Workplace safety and better return to work outcomes are always encouraged. However, as we all know, any time we see proposals for faster return to work, what we usually end up with is less benefits paid and increased financial suffering for injured workers. Proposals for reducing injury rates typically means more denied claims.
Both of these proposals along with many filed and yet to be filed in states must be watched closely. WILG will be closely monitoring these items. We must be ever vigilant, and we need your help. If you want to be more involved contact Jennifer Comer or any of our WILG Officers. Also, please recruit a potential new member today. We need all the great workers’ compensation lawyers across the country to protect the rights of injured workers.
Mr. William L. Smith II Esq.
Chappell, Smith & Arden
P.O. Box 12330
Columbia SC 29211
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