September 21, 2022
by Kevin Anderson

Chronic Condition Award Does Not Automatically Result in Work Disability in Oregon

The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board recently issued a helpful decision when it comes to determining permanent work restrictions and dealing with the reconsideration proceeding. Richard McConnell, 74 Van Natta 536 (2022).

The attending physician provided a report confirming claimant was released to regular duty regarding the accepted condition (CTS), but had permanent restrictions due to an unclaimed condition. The insurer closed the claim without work disability. On reconsideration, the medical arbiter found claimant was entitled to a chronic condition award. At hearing, claimant argued the chronic condition finding was incompatible with a regular duty work release as the job analysis in the file confirmed claimant’s job required highly repetitive work. The ALJ awarded work disability based on the arbiter’s chronic condition award.

The WCB confirmed their prior decision that a regular duty work release must be established by clear and convincing evidence, and there must be an accurate description of the physical requirements of the job at injury. OAR 436-030-0020(2). The WCB also reaffirmed a prior decision to conclude the attending physician’s release to work (not the medical arbiter’s opinion) determines whether a claimant is entitled to work disability. Benjamin Peterson, 59 Van Natta 909 (2007).

Most importantly, the WCB explained a chronic condition award does not, by itself, preclude a finding claimant was released to regular duty when the attending physician clarified any ongoing work restrictions were not due to the accepted conditions.

Getting the attending physician to clarify claimant’s work status prior to claim closure is nothing new, but this is a good reminder to discuss the specific job duties, review any written job analyses, and get clarification about causes of ongoing work restrictions.

If you have any questions about this case or it might affect your claims, please feel free to contact me at 503-595-2130 or .

Posted by Kevin Anderson.