Answers to Workers’ Compensation Questions From a Columbus Attorney
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General Workers' Compensation Claim FAQs
Columbus employees and workers throughout Ohio who suffer injuries on the job normally have many questions running through their mind. Here we have provided many answers to common questions we are asked regarding general claim information. We have also provided many questions and answers regarding medical treatment and receiving compensation.
- Who is responsible for filing an Ohio workers’ compensation claim?
- Do I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
- What kind of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
- Do I need an attorney for my workers’ compensation case?
- How do I claim workers' compensation?
- How long does it take to process a workers’ compensation claim?
- What types of benefits will I receive?
- What is a C84?
- What’s a MEDCO-14?
- What is permanent partial disability?
- If my injury happened at work, why is my employer denying treatment?
- What if my employer tells me not to file a workers' compensation claim?
- Can I appeal a denied workers' compensation claim?
Who files an Ohio workers’ compensation claim?
You do! When an injury occurs at work, immediately report the accident to your employer. They are supposed to help you file the claim with the company’s Managed Care Organization (MCO). Reporting the claim on the BWC website is the Bureau’s preferred way of filing a claim. When you file a claim online, you will immediately receive a claim number. Learn more about filing a claim if you have already seen a doctor.
Do I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. Workers' compensation laws are very complex and it is sensible to work with an experienced Columbus workers compensation attorney. It really does depend on your individual situation. Please call our office at (614) 334-4649.
What kind of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
In Ohio, workers’ compensation covers physical injuries sustained in the course of and arising out of employment. Pre-existing physical conditions substantially aggravated by a work injury/incident may also be covered. Psychiatric/psychological conditions that develop from or, if pre-existing, are substantially aggravated by physical injuries are also covered. Ohio is one of a minority of states that does NOT recognize as compensable psychiatric/psychological conditions that develop without a corresponding physical injury.
Do I need an attorney for my workers’ comp case in Columbus?
Not all claims involve serious injuries and not all claims need attorney involvement. If an injury is relatively minor, requiring maybe a trip to the emergency room and a stitch or two with no residual impairment, it may go through without a hitch. It’s likely you will want to talk with a Columbus attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims if your injury is serious, will likely involve lost-time from work, and/or is being contested by your employer and/or the BWC. Learn more
How do I claim workers' compensation in Columbus?
First, report the injury to your Columbus or Ohio employer in writing. While reporting in writing isn’t a legal requirement, doing so documents your actions and lessens the possibility that your claim will be contested. Second, seek medical attention from an urgent care facility, hospital emergency room, company nurse, or doctor soon. Provide a complete history of what you were doing, how you were injured, and where it hurts. Third, if you are claiming workers’ compensation, file your claim promptly. The time you have to file a claim is limited by the statute of limitations. Your hospital or employer may furnish necessary paperwork and even file the claim for you, but it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your claim is filed with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and a claim number is assigned.
How long does it take to process a workers’ compensation claim?
Within 28 days, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will allow or deny your claim. By responding to any inquiries from them or from your managed care organization (MCO), you will speed up the decision process and receipt of benefits.
What types of benefits will I receive?
Injured workers in Ohio are eligible to receive medical treatment for their work-related injuries and compensation for their lost time from work. This compensation, known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD), is paid if the injury results in more than a week off work. If the lost time is less than a week, no compensation is payable. If it’s between one and two weeks, only the period during the second week is compensable. If over 2 weeks, it’s all paid.
Temporary Total Disability compensation is paid based on a percentage of the worker’s earnings for one week, 6 weeks or 52 weeks prior to the injury, depending on how long the period of disability lasts. Injuries resulting in some permanent impairment may permit an additional award of compensation known as permanent partial disability.
What is a C84?
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation requires Form C84 as proof of ongoing temporary total disability. The injured worker must complete the form, verifying the period of disability and that she has not worked and has not received other wages during the period of temporary total disability. These forms must be periodically updated for compensation to continue. Your doctor must complete a separate form certifying temporary total disability. Both forms are required before compensation can be paid.
What’s a MEDCO-14?
A MEDCO-14 is a Physician’s Report of Work Ability. Your doctor completes this form to certify that you are temporarily and totally disabled due to your work injury or to identify any restrictions on your ability to perform your job duties due to the injury. A MEDCO-14 must be submitted every time you submit a C-84.
What is permanent partial disability?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is a form of compensation that may be payable following a work injury. It is paid by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or a self-insured employer following an exam (or sometimes multiple exams) at which a physician is asked to provide an opinion regarding lost bodily function that has resulted from an injury or occupational disease. It is workers’ compensation’s version of a damages award for an industrial injury. Time limitations may apply in requesting an award of PPD. In addition, the percentage of disability resulting from an injury may be disputed by the injured worker, the employer, and/or the BWC. In such situations, the Industrial Commission conducts a hearing to determine a proper award. This is differs from a settlement of your claim.
If my injury happened at work, why is my employer denying treatment?
Treatment may be denied by your employer, your managed care organization (MCO), or the BWC if excessive, inappropriate, or not cost-effective. MCOs may deny treatment they consider too expensive, even if it is treatment your doctor believes is beneficial. You may appeal decisions denying treatment that your doctor believes appropriate.
What if my employer tells me not to file a workers' compensation claim?
Penalties may be assessed against employers who fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer tells you not to file a claim for a work-related injury, maybe s/he tried to cut costs by not obtaining the mandatory workers’ compensation coverage. Reporting the injury would notify the BWC of the employer’s non-compliance. It could also be the employer has had so many claims filed against them they fear the BWC will increase their insurance premiums.
Injured employees are still covered by the workers’ compensation system even if their employer is non-complying, so it is still best to file a claim. Learn more
Can I appeal a denied workers' compensation claim?
The BWC has 28 days to allow or deny your claim. If you or your employer disagrees with BWC’s decision, either party can file an appeal with the Industrial Commission (IC) within 14 days.
There are three hearing levels for workers’ claims at the IC:
• District level hearings — These take place in locations throughout Ohio within 45 days of filing an appeal. The district hearing officer will decide within seven days. The IC sends both parties a written notice of the hearing officer’s decision. Each party has 14 days from receipt of the district hearing officer’s decision to file an appeal to the next level.
• Staff level hearings — These take place within 45 days after an appeal of the district hearing officer’s decision is filed. The staff hearing officer will decide within seven days. The IC will send each party a written notice of the staff hearing officer’s decision. Each party has 14 days from receiving the staff hearing officer’s decision to file an appeal to the next level.
• The commission level — After studying the staff hearing officer’s decision, the commission either agrees to hear the appeal or refuses to permit further appeal. If the commission accepts the appeal, a commission hearing will occur within 45 days. The commission will decide within seven days. If the commission refuses to hear the appeal, depending upon the issue, you may appeal the matter to the court within 60 days after receipt of the commission order. Learn more about your options if your workers' comp claim has been denied.
Medical Treatment FAQs
It only takes a split second for an accident at work to turn a person’s life upside-down as the medical bills roll in. We've aimed to answer all of your questions regarding receiving the medical treatment you need. If you still have questions about workers' compensation or receiving medical treatment, please contact our office at (614) 334-4649. We've also answered many FAQs regarding general claim info and receiving compensation.
- Who approves treatment?
- Can I go to my family doctor?
- I want to change doctors. How?
- I can’t get my prescriptions filled. What should I do?
- What is MMI?
- Why do I have to wait for treatment?
- What is Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
- How will I know if a doctor is certified by BWC?
- How do I get my medical bills paid for?
- What should I do if I get medical bills?
- Can I get reimbursed for prescriptions?
Who approves treatment?
Requests for treatment are submitted by your doctor to the MCO assigned to your case. If your employer is self-insured, requests are sent to your employer’s TPA (third-party administrator). The MCO or TPA may request additional information from your doctor or a medical review before approving the treatment. Denials of treatment may be appealed.
Can I go to my family doctor?
An injured Ohio worker may be treated by a doctor of his choice, as long as the doctor is a BWC-certified healthcare provider. Often, family doctors do not treat job-related injuries because they are concerned about the paperwork involved and/or the hassles associated with claims procedures. Your family doctor refer you to a BWC-certified provider. You can also ask for recommendations from co-workers, your union representative, your attorney, or other people who have received treatment for a work injury. The BWC and your MCO also maintain lists of physicians who treat industrial injuries.
I want to change doctors. How?
You may decide to change physicians for a variety of reasons, ranging from the retirement of the provider, travel distance, or a desire for a different treatment option. Injured workers who wants to change physicians should notify the MCO and submit BWC Form C23. If your employer is self-insured, this form should be sent directly to the employer or its TPA.
I can’t get my prescriptions filled. What should I do?
Your pharmacist can explain why payment for a prescription is denied. It may be a coding error or a concern that the medication is inappropriate. Your doctor can provide additional information regarding the need for and the propriety of the medication. If the bill was denied pending the allowance of the claim, you will be reimbursed once your claim is allowed. Keep all receipts for medications and treatment related to your injury if you need to request reimbursement.
What is MMI?
Temporary total disability (TTD) compensation is payable following an on-the-job injury until the injured worker is released to return to her former job, actually returns to that job, or is determined to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI indicates that the injury has reached a treatment plateau under the current treatment regimen, meaning it has gotten about as good as it will get! Although temporary benefits are no longer payable if the condition is no longer improving, other forms of compensation may be available for injured workers whose TTD has been terminated after a finding that their condition has reached MMI.
Why do I have to wait for treatment? I just want to get back to work!
During the initial processing period (i.e., when the Ohio BWC or your employer is deciding whether to allow or contest the claim), physicians may be reluctant to provide treatment, as there is no guarantee they will be paid. Some doctors will provide treatment, pending the allowance of the claim, expectating the claim will be allowed or that you have other means of paying (for example, other insurance) should the claim be disallowed. While your claim is considered, avoid large unpaid medical bills you may have to pay should your claim be disallowed. Once the claim is allowed, providers (other than pharmacies) who have treated you for the job-related injury should submit their bills to your MCO.
What is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical evaluation scheduled by the BWC or employer's representative to opine about various medical issues related to your claim, including, but not limited to, whether treatment or testing is necessary, the degree of your permanent impairment and whether you have reached MMI. When scheduled by an employer, I believe it more accurate to describe this as a DME: Defense Medical Exam. Employers hire the same doctors over and over to render medical opinions on their behalf--they are not "independent".
How will I know if a doctor is certified by BWC?
The simplest way is to ask your doctor when you make the initial appointment. You may also call the employer's MCO, the BWC at 1-800-644-6292, or research BWC certified providers (by name, location and/or specialty) at the BWC's website.
How do I get my medical bills paid?
Medical bills should be payable in an allowed claim. Give your claim number to all of your medical providers who treat you in your claim. They will then request authorization for the medical treatment they request from the MCO. There are advantages of using the workers' compensation system as opposed to using private health insurance for a work injury.
What should I do if I get medical bills?
You should forward the bills to your MCO or self-insured employer. Unpaid bills can be appealed to the BWC for further investigation.
Can I get reimbursed for prescriptions?
Like medical bills, prescriptions for allowed conditions in your claim should be payable in an allowed claim. Inform your pharmacist that the prescription is for a workers' compensation claim. You may need to pay for the initial prescription, but if the BWC determines the medicine was for the allowed conditions, you will be reimbursed.
Obviously, you are responsible for any bill or prescription that the BWC determines is not related to your claim.
Workers who suffer injuries on the job normally have many questions running through their mind. Here we have provided answers to the questions we are commonly asked. We have also provided many questions and answers regarding medical treatment and general questions.
- When will I get paid? How much will I be paid?
- How long can I get paid for missing work?
- What decides how much money I receive while out of work?
- Can I ask for a settlement?
- What happens if I go back to work after being deemed permanently and totally disabled?
- Do I still get any benefits when I return to work?
- Is any tax taken out of my benefits check?
- Why do my Worker's Comp checks come in for different amounts?
- How long does it take for me to receive my benefits check?
When will I get paid? How much will I be paid?
Filing a claim doesn’t guarantee payment of compensation or benefits. Your claim may be denied or disputed by the BWC or your employer. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has 28 days from claim filing to accept or deny a claim. Learn about your options if your claim has been denied. Compensation won’t be paid until a claim is allowed.
The amount you are paid depends in part on how long you cannot work. The Ohio BWC or a self-insured employer will calculate your earnings prior to your injury, and you will be paid a percentage of those wages. The wage calculation and rate of payment often change, depending upon how long you cannot work. Wages may be set too low, and in these cases we can request an adjustment to consider special circumstances, periods of unemployment, or additional wage information, including wages from a second job.
How long will I be paid for the work I miss?
Generally, you could be compensated until you are released to return to your former job, actually return to that job, or are determined to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
How is the money I am paid determined?
Your benefits are based on the money you earned working for the year prior to injury. Your Full Weekly Wage (FWW) is determined by the greater of your gross wages (including overtime) earned over the 6 weeks prior to injury, divided by 6; or your gross wages (excluding overtime) for the 7 days before the injury. The first 12 weeks of temporary total disability (TTD) compensation will be paid at 72% of your FWW. Benefits after the first 12 weeks of TTD will be paid based on your Average Weekly Wage (AWW), which is generally calculated by taking your earnings from all employers for the year prior to the injury and dividing that amount by 52 weeks. Those benefits are paid at 66⅔% of your AWW.
Can I ask for a settlement?
This is an issue you should consult an attorney about. There may be factors you are not aware of, and an experienced attorney can help secure the maximum settlement amount. At a minimum, wait until you are sure you will have no further complications from your work injury. Most employers will not settle with an employee while they are still working there, as the risk of re-injury and a new claim is present.
What happens if I go back to work after being deemed permanently and totally disabled?
You will lose any permanent total disability (PTD) benefits and likely be charged with fraud if you collect PTD compensation while working (unless you are receiving statutory PTD). If you believe you have medically recovered to the point of returning to work, consult an attorney about options before you do.
Do I still get any benefits when I return to work?
There are other benefits that may be available after returning to work. For instance, you may be entitled to a Working Wage Loss if your injury prevents you from making the same salary as you did prior to the injury. This is something you should consult with an attorney about.
Is any tax taken out of my benefits check?
No. Workers' compensation benefits are tax-free.
Why do my Worker's Comp checks come in for different amounts?
The first 12 weeks of TTD compensation are paid at 72% of your FWW. After the first 12 weeks, it is paid at 66⅔% of your AWW. It is possible that, because of the day of the week a check is originally issued or other factors, a check may only cover a portion of the standard 2-week pay period. The period covered will be listed on the payment. You will receive the amount you are entitled to, and eventually, the checks will be for a consistent amount and released on a consistent basis.
How long does it take for me to receive my benefits check?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. It may take many weeks (and sometimes, months) before compensation is received after it is awarded.
What is a lump sum advancement—and should I take it?
A workers’ compensation lump sum advancement (LSA) is the pre-payment of future compensation for a specified purpose available to those receiving permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) scheduled loss awards.
While this benefit is intended to help injured workers who have an immediate financial need, it might be a good idea to exhaust other options before taking an LSA.
When You Might Need to Take a Lump Sum Advancement
It’s hard enough to make ends meet when you're working full time, so offering a pot of money to help with expenses when you become disabled is tempting. To qualify for a lump sum advancement, you must also show you need financial relief. According to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), you may request a lump sum advancement for:
- Household expenses. Bills will keep coming, but if you're behind in paying rent, mortgage, utilities, or insurance, it might make sense to take a lump sum to get caught up.
- Emergency expenses. If you need a new roof, a vehicle, an appliance, or have some other major emergency purchase, you can request a lump sum if you submit an estimate and a reason to the BWC ahead of time.
- School tuition. An LSA can pay tuition for the injured worker or their children.
- Adaptive equipment. In some cases, there's an immediate need for a wheelchair, ramp, vehicle modification, or other adaptive equipment. An LSA can be used for that if it's not already covered under your claim.
It's important to understand that the amount you'll get in a lump sum advancement is less than what you would get in the long run if you take regular payments. Also, while you're expected to use the lump sum on the approved expenditure, it's ultimately up to you to use the money responsibly. If you know you're better off with a steady, reliable income stream for years to come, you probably shouldn’t apply for an LSA, even if you're qualified.
Discuss Your Options With a Workers’ Comp Attorney
The purpose of workers’ comp benefits is to pay for medical treatment and replace lost wages due to a job-related injury. When you're awarded permanent total or permanent partial disability benefits and have immediate financial needs, you must make decisions about how to receive those funds. If you need help weighing the pros and cons, contact Monast Law Office for advice. You can learn more about Ohio Worker’s Compensation by requesting a free copy of my book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.
Cigna denied my disability claim. Can I appeal?
You opted into your employer’s long-term disability (LTD) insurance plan with Cigna for the peace of mind it provided. You thought it would cover you and help your family if you had to take significant time off of work due to an injury or illness. However, your LTD claim was denied, and you don’t know where to turn. Fortunately, it may be possible to appeal Cigna’s denial.
Cigna Is Known for Denying Claims in Ohio
As an insurer for companies like Honda, Cigna is a big player in the Ohio insurance game. Unfortunately, it doesn't always follow the rules. According to a recent study, Cigna and its subsidiaries deny more long-term disability claims each year than any other insurer, and not always for valid reasons. In the last ten years, there have been at least 62 bad-faith court cases filed against Cigna. So if Cigna denied your LTD claim, you're not alone.
What You Should Do If Cigna Denies Your Claim
If your employer provided your Cigna long-term disability insurance, it's probably governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). If you have to file an administrative appeal, be prepared for a difficult battle. Your first steps should be to:
- Review the denial letter. You first need to understand why your claim was denied. Under ERISA, Cigna must provide a detailed explanation for the denial and tell you about your right to appeal.
- Gather evidence. Given Cigna’s reason for denying you, the next step is to gather evidence to counter their claims. This might include witness statements, medical records, employment records, and statements from vocational experts.
- Call an ERISA attorney. Not every attorney is equipped to handle ERISA claims. You'll need to find an attorney who is willing to take on Cigna within the constraints of ERISA law.
It’s important to understand you don't have to face Cigna alone. You should have an attorney help you with an appeal.
Monast Law Office Accepts ERISA Appeals
If Cigna denied your long-term disability claim, contact my office in Upper Arlington. I'll review your denial letter and help you launch a successful appeal. To learn more about ERISA claims, request a free copy of my book, Don’t Go it Alone: How Insurance Companies Sabotage Disability Claims.
What is an adverse benefit decision on a long-term disability claim?
If you file a long-term disability (LTD) claim on your employer-sponsored policy and the insurance company denies or terminates your application, pays less than the claim is worth or says you're only entitled to limited benefits, that means they have issued an “adverse benefit decision.” As soon as this happens, you have necessary rights to act on.
But unless you talk to an attorney who handles ERISA claims, you'll have a hard time exercising those rights. Let me explain what I’m talking about.
ERISA Grants You This Important Right
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a complicated piece of legislation that protects both employers and employees in situations involving various kinds of benefits, including long-term disability insurance policies. Under ERISA, if you receive an adverse benefits decision, you may get a copy of your claim file to see the information the insurance company used to make the adverse decision.
Now, it won’t just voluntarily hand over the claim file. You'll have to request it in writing and, even though the carrier is required by law to give you the record, it might still deny your request.
How Can You Protect Your Rights?
Maybe the claim manager isn't aware of the law that compels the company to hand over the file, or it could be more intentional than that. Either way, without an ERISA attorney advocating for you, it's unlikely you'll get access to the file, even though the law is on your side. Even if you're able to get the file, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to wade through the data and figure out if you have a case for an appeal.
However, an experienced ERISA attorney such as myself has the knowledge and resources to review the file—which could be thousands of pages long—and determine if you have reason to appeal.
Trust Monast Law Office With Your LTD Appeal
As I said before, ERISA protects both you and your employer. While it might grant you some rights, it also limits what you can do with those rights to protect the employer. Your best bet is to call our office when your LTD claim is underpaid or denied. Leave the complicated ERISA laws to us—we’ll make sure your rights are protected. If you want to learn more about ERISA, request a copy of our free book, How Insurance Companies Sabotage Disability Claims.
As a teacher’s aide, can I get workers’ comp if I'm injured at school?
Teachers’ aides are some of the hardest-working employees in a school. Sometimes called para-professionals or para-pros, these helpers assist certain students and help with controlling chaos in the classroom.
Because of the hands-on nature of their work, they're also prone to be injured on the job. It’s important for these valuable school employees to understand that they can file for workers’ compensation if they're hurt at work, even if they're part-timers.
How Aides Get Hurt at School
If an aide is assigned to work with a student who's health impaired, their job will be physically demanding. Working with students with cognitive or behavioral challenges, as my daughter-in-law does, could mean they're at risk of being assaulted. Teachers’ aides are in the trenches with students, so to speak, and they suffer injuries as often as, or even more frequently than, classroom teachers.
Some causes of para-pro injuries include:
- Outbursts and attacks. When an aide is assigned to work with an individual student, they could bear the brunt when the student lashes out or has a tantrum. Being hit, knocked down, or shoved against a wall can cause serious injuries.
- Playground incidents. Teachers’ aides often serve as playground monitors and are the first on the scene if there's a fight. They can also suffer trip and fall injuries, be hit by playground equipment, or sustain a strain or sprain injury while playing with children.
- Handling wheelchairs. Pushing a student in a wheelchair, moving an empty wheelchair, and lifting a student in an out of the chair can all take their toll on a teacher who must do these tasks all day, every day.
- Lifting and restraining. Teachers’ aides are often responsible for physically restraining students having a meltdown and may have to lift and carry the child away to protect other students. These are physically-demanding tasks.
If you get to where the physical demands of your job as a teachers’ aide cause injuries that prevent you from working, you can qualify for workers’ compensation to pay for your medical bills and lost wages, even if you only work part-time. Learn more about your rights as a worker in Ohio by downloading my free book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.
If you have questions after an injury at school, call my office to speak to one of my knowledgeable team members.
Why was my short-term disability claim denied?
You opted into short-term disability insurance because you were worried about how bills would get paid if you could not work for several months. You thought you were doing the responsible thing to protect your family if an illness or injury prevented you from earning a paycheck. However, when the worst happened, and you had to make a claim, you were denied. How can this be?
It’s All in the Fine Print
Employers in Ohio aren't required to offer short-term disability policies to their employees, but some do. With this coverage, people unable to work for several weeks or months due to a non-work-related injury or illness can file a claim to recover some lost income and additional compensation while temporarily disabled. The conditions covered and the time you're insured depend on the terms of your specific policy.
Some short-term disability policies offer as little as 30 days, while others cover you for a year. However, no policy covers illness or injury caused by your job, because those circumstances fall under the umbrella of workers’ compensation.
Why Was Your Claim Denied?
Short-term disability claims are usually denied for one of these reasons:
- The condition isn't covered. You have to understand the terms of your policy before you apply for benefits. Some policies cover time off for childbirth by C-section, for example, and others don't.
- You didn't provide adequate medical evidence. Even though your disability is only expected to be temporary, you still have to provide medical proof that you're unable to work. If the insurer doesn't think the evidence is sufficient, it will deny the claim.
- The insurer thinks you're lying. Insurance adjusters check out your social media, follow you around, and even talk to your friends and coworkers to find a reason to deny your claim. If they think your behavior contradicts your application for disability, they could deny it.
If you paid your premiums and are legitimately disabled, get the insurance benefits you deserve. If you're denied, you can file an appeal, but need the help of an attorney who handles these kinds of cases. Employer-sponsored benefits are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and are subject to strict regulations.
Contact Monast Law Office With Your ERISA Claim
As a dedicated workers' comp attorney for over 30 years, I'm honored to provide winning strategies for clients denied an employee benefit covered by ERISA, including short-term disability. Contact our office in Columbus to discover if we can help. To learn more about ERISA and the appeals process, request a free download of our book, Don’t Go It Alone: How Insurance Companies Sabotage Disability Claims.
What changes are coming in 2020 to workers’ comp law in Ohio?
Ohio House Bill 81 (HB 81) was signed into law by Governor DeWine on June 16, 2020. What started as an initiative to expand workers’ comp coverage for post-exposure testing of safety officers will now address several other key issues when it goes into effect later this year.
While the changes might just be legalese to a layperson, they represent significant changes to workers’ comp attorneys like me.
Ohio Workers' Comp Changes Effective September 15, 2020
While testing of peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical workers, and corrections officers exposed to blood and bodily fluids on the job is already covered by workers’ comp, HB 81 expands that coverage. Beginning September 15, 2020, workers' comp extends to employees of detention centers and includes exposure to drugs or other chemical substances. Also, these changes will be implemented when the law goes into effect:
- The voluntary abandonment doctrine regarding temporary total disability claims—which had been based on 25 years of case law—will now be subject to new, specific standards.
- The statute of limitations for reporting violations of specific safety standards will change from two years to one year from the date of injury.
- Funeral benefit cap increases from $5,000 to $7,500 but isn't retroactive.
- Employers can no longer withdraw from a proposed settlement agreement when the claim exceeds their premium calculation, and the employee in the claim no longer works for them.
- HB 81 changes the date that the Industrial Commission can invoke continuing jurisdiction to the time of medical services, rather than the date of payment.
- Expands the time you have to appeal an Industrial Commission decision from 60 to 150 days in specific circumstances for claims pending on and arising after September 29, 2017.
Fortunately, don't worry about how these changes affect your workers’ comp claim because, if you're already a client, my team is taking care of everything.
If you need to file a claim or are struggling with an existing application, please call my office to discover how we may help. At Monast Law Office, we stay informed of changes affecting the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the Ohio Industrial Commission, and your claim.
How long do I have to file an appeal of my LTD denial, considering the restrictions imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic?
In March 2020, the world as we knew it changed almost overnight. Most of us were told to shelter in place, work from home, and only go out for essential purposes. Many businesses came to a standstill, at least while everyone adjusted to the changes, and any medical, legal, and government problems not related to COVID-19 were pushed aside or put on hold.
Were you facing a denial of your long-term or short-term disability benefits as this went down, you're probably wondering when you'll be able to continue pursuing an appeal.
Among all the bad news around us these days, one bright spot is that the U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury unprecedentedly decided to loosen some of the restrictions imposed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
What Does This Mean for Your ERISA Appeal?
While ERISA gives you the right to appeal denials of your employer-sponsored long-term disability (LTD) insurance, it does so with fairly rigid restrictions, including a short, 180-day time limit from the date of denial. If you received a denial in the last six months, you were probably just figuring out what to do about it when COVID-19 hit.
Whether you were affected by the pandemic and let the claim slip your mind, or you've been unable to get help because of the restrictions, you might be panicking that your time is running out. To file an appeal, you must see your health providers to get medical reports. If you've been unable to leave your home or your doctors’ offices were closed, you haven't been able to get the evidence you need to support your appeal.
However, given the National State of Emergency issued on March 13, the 180-day time limit has been lifted. On May 4, the following rule change was announced:
“All group health plans, disability and other employee welfare benefit plans, and employee pension benefit plans subject to ERISA…must disregard the period from March 1, 2020, until sixty (60) days after the announced end of the National Emergency or such other date announced by the Agencies in a future notification.”
As of June 1, the National State of Emergency had still not been lifted, so this means that the period from March 1 to an indefinite date cannot be counted against the 180-day time limit for your LTD appeal.
Monast Law Office Is Open for Business and Ready to Discuss Your LTD Appeal
Appealing an LTD denial is difficult in the best of times, and it's especially difficult now. As a board-certified workers’ comp attorney for over 30 years, I'm dedicated to providing people the guidance and representation they need to get the long-term disability benefits they deserve. Contact our office in Columbus to discover how we can help! To learn more about ERISA and the appeals process, request a free download of our book, Don’t Go It Alone: How Insurance Companies Sabotage Disability Claims.