Claims Examiner Certification Renewal in Oregon and COVID-19

Three months into the pandemic, we have all seen changes in both our daily lives and in our professional lives. One of these changes has been the cancellation of several conferences and seminars which provide the continuing education units (CEUs) required for recertification.

Under OAR 436-055-0070, claims examiners are required to complete 24 hours of training within a three-year cycle. These CEUs include at least 6 hours on ORS chapter 656 and OAR chapter 436, at least one hour on interactions with IME providers, and additional training related to medical case management, communication skills, and claims processing skills.

Thankfully, the administrative rules provide a 12-month grace period to renew certification. During the grace period, an examiner is still “certified” under the rules; they just have additional time to get all the needed CEUs. For instance, if a claim examiner’s certification expires on June 30, 2020, that examiner will have until June 30, 2021 to complete the 24 CEUs. However, the new 3-year certification period still begins on July 1, 2020 for the next cycle of required CEUs. Credits can only be applied to one certification cycle, so once the old certification period is complete, examiners will need to catch up toward their new certification period. For more information on the grace period, please visit the WCD’s FAQ page here.

WCD has no current plans to update the rules specific to claims examiner CEU’s. However, they are open to feedback from the Oregon workers’ compensation community. If possible, the Department would like to know details about what claims examiners feel is lacking under the existing three-year process and grace period. For example, they would like to know whether there are enough courses on particular topics. The Department is also interested to know whether insurers feel they are struggling to provide timely claims examiner CEUs without a rule change. With enough feedback, they are willing to consider whether the administrative rules may require a change to address certification issues.

Sather, Byerly & Holloway, LLP is currently working on its annual Oregon workshop and preparing to provide those courses online. Details on the webinar will be out soon.

Additionally, the WCD is seeking stakeholder input regarding the option of holding a virtual conference this year. They will be sending out a survey to previous conference attendees on June 17, 2020. However, a link to the survey is available here. The WCD is requesting the survey be completed by the end of business on June 26, 2020. They are looking into several concerns regarding webinar fatigue and price point among other ideas.

As a reminder, Sather Byerly & Holloway, LLP offers a Workers’ Compensation Online Certification Program for new claim examiners to get their certification. The course is available online here and can be taken at your convenience on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. If you have any questions regarding certification during this time, please do not hesitate to contact me at 503-595-6108 or enovotny@sbhlegal.com