On Oct. 24, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill that will now require seriously injured workers to undergo an additional layer of scrutiny to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits. This latest law essentially overturns the previous law that did away with follow-up exams for workers with the most profound injuries. It was declared unconstitutional in June of last year.
Prior to his signing of the bill, business advocacy groups had expressed concern over how the premiums for their workers’ compensation policies were expected to increase.
Soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2017, the cost of annual benefits had increased by six percent — the most significant increase in more than two decades. This led to a premium increase of at least two digits.
Those who opposed the bill did so because they thought that the imposition of the secondary medical evaluations would give employers an additional excuse for denying payments on worker claims.
As it stands, this new law is expected to only impact a small percentage of workers with the most severe injuries. Once a person has been away from work for at least two years, an employer can request that they undergo an additional medical evaluation to see if they’re still as impaired as they originally were.
If the doctor deems that the worker is no more than 35 percent impaired, then an employers’ insurance company can withdraw their partial benefits after ten years. A worker who is more than 35 percent impaired will be eligible to receive full benefits for the remainder of their life.
Employers’ insurance companies will be given 90 days from the date of bill’s signing to recalculate workers’ compensation benefits payments that they will continue making.
Injuries that occur on the job are often unexpected. Although employers are supposed to be proactive in making sure that you get the medical attention that you need right away, there are many that will drag their feet in hopes that they can avoid paying for your bills. A Dauphin workers’ compensation attorney can explain to you what your legal options are and can give you the best recommendation for how to proceed.