Changes in WC law

Changes to Oregon Employer-at-Injury Program effective as of January 1, 2017

Anderson, Kevin_webOAR 436-105 explains who qualifies for and how to request assistance and reimbursement from the Employer-at-Injury Program (EAIP). The EAIP encourages early return to work by providing incentives to employers from the Workers’ Benefit Fund. Several changes were made to the EAIP administrative rules and vocational assistance rules. The following are some of the key changes to the EAIP. OAR 436-105-0003(3): Clarifies documents can be submitted to the WCD via the US Postal Service, physical delivery to the Salem WCD office, fax, or any other method approved by the WCD (the WCD is working on developing an online portal system similar to the WCB’s portal). OAR 436-105-0006: Specifies money from the Workers’ Benefit Fund cannot be used to provide benefits… Continue reading

Changes to OAR 436-060 effective as of January 1, 2017

vaniman-megan-colorIn 2016, the Workers’ Compensation Division drafted changes to OAR 436-060. These changes went into effect on January 1, 2017. Below, I have outlined several changes that claim’s administrators should be aware of. Please note that the below list and recommendations is not a complete list of changes to Division 060. I encourage you to review the new rules. OAR 436-060-0010(6): The worker may choose a medical service provider, attending physician or authorized nurse practitioner under ORS 656.245, 656.260, OAR 436-010 and 436-015. Except as provided under ORS 656.260 and OAR 436-015, if an employer restricts the worker’s choice of medical service provider the director may impose a civil penalty of up to $2,000. What this means for you: This… Continue reading

New Oregon WCD Rules go into effect January 1, 2017

vaniman-megan-colorEarlier this year, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division proposed extensive changes to division rules. The rule changes go into effect on January 1, 2017. The following OAR 436 divisions include changes: – 050, Employer/Insurer Coverage Responsibility – 060, Claims Administration – 105, Employer‐at‐Injury Program – 110, Preferred Worker Program – 120, Vocational Assistance to injured Workers A complete copy of the rules and changes can be found here. Over the next couple of weeks, SBH will provide details on how the rule changes will impact claims administration. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the rule changes please contact me at mvaniman@sbhlegal.com.

Board’s new attorney fee rules go into effect on November 1.

vaniman-megan-colorThe Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board passed revised attorney fee rules on October 13, 2016. The most significant changes involve increased attorney fees for disputed claims settlements and claims disposition agreements. The Board increased attorney fees on Disputed Claim Settlements and Claims Disposition Agreements. Previously attorneys were awarded 25% of the first $17,500 of the settlement process plus 10% of any amount of proceeds in excess. The Board revised the rules to allow 25% of the first $50,000 of the settlement proceeds plus 10% of any amount of proceeds in excess of $50,000. The Board also increased the amount of attorney fees received in PPD and PTD cases. Previously awards were limited to 25% of increased compensation not to exceed… Continue reading

Oregon WCD Proposes Rule Changes

Anderson, Kevin_webThe WCD is seeking input on three topics before the end of August. Proposed rules would be drafted and discussed at a public meeting in the fall. Any input now helps the WCD draft clearer and more helpful rules, or avoid drafting rules if there is a statutory conflict of if the rules would be unnecessary. Medical Care: The WCD plans to move forward with a change to the 801 form requiring two new acknowledgements, one by the worker and one by the employer. The specific language is still being drafted and will be discussed in the fall, but the language will require the employer to inform claimant of his/her right to choose a medical provider and that the employer… Continue reading

Attorney Fee Proposals

Anderson, Kevin_webThe Workers’ Compensation Board is moving forward with several changes in attorney fee rules. Formal rules will be drafted and reviewed at a public hearing this fall. The board welcomes any input, comments, or concerns with these rules. These rules will not be effective until after the public hearing. If an ALJ awards additional PPD, claimant’s attorney is entitled to a fee up to 25% of the increased compensation, but no more than $4,600. The board is proposing to remove the cap and award a “reasonable attorney fee.” See OAR 438-015-0040(1). If the board, on review, awards additional PPD, claimant’s attorney is entitled to a fee up to 25% of the increased compensation, but no more than $6,000. The board… Continue reading

New Bill Alters Timeline for Initial Time Loss Payment

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222On January 1, 2016, House Bill 2797 went into effect, modifying when initial temporary disability payments must be made. Prior to January 1, 2016, if there was medical authorization for payment of time loss benefits, the insurer was required to begin paying benefits no later than 14 days after the employer had knowledge of the claim. House Bill 2797 amends ORS 656.262(4)(a) and adds another layer to when the 14 day timeline begins. The bill provides that the first payment of time loss benefits is due no later than 14 days after the employer has knowledge of both the claim and the worker’s disability. The attending physician must still authorize temporary disability. The purpose of the bill is to more… Continue reading

2015 Legislative Update: Changes in Oregon Workers’ Compensation

Evenson, Andrew_167x222A couple of weeks ago, I presented a legislative update related to Oregon employment law and what effects new legislation has on your employment policy both now and in the new year. The 2015 legislative session also included the passage of numerous bills affecting Oregon workers’ compensation law. Among others, Senate Bill 371, House Bill 2797, House Bill 3114, and House Bill 2764 made a splash within the Oregon workers’ compensation community. Senate Bill 371, which became effective May 21, 2015, amended ORS 656.268. It requires that, if a worker is deceased at the time of claim closure, the Notice of Closure be mailed to the estate of the worker at the worker’s last known address and… Continue reading