Jun
12
2009
0

Why did the WCAB in Weiner kill vocational rehabilitation?

WCAB: Throwing babies out with the bathwater since 1965

The WCAB: Throwing babies out with the bathwater since 1965

For context, its best to see the prior post about the WCAB’s Weiner v. Ralph’s (en banc) decision.  There’s even a link to the Weiner v. Ralphs (en banc) decision for download – just so you can play along at home.

The question in the title of the post is really a question about the WCAB’s rationale – not their end legal justification behind Weiner.  I believe the Weiner case hints that the WCAB is going to go the other way and uphold their rulings in Almaraz/Guzman and Ogilvie.

However, I think the WCAB’s rationale for ending vocational rehabilitation was because of the potential for enormous retroactive vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance awards at the temporary total disability rate outside the cap (VRTD).[1][2]

  1. Photo courtesy of Stephane Raymond []
  2. You see, I’m suggesting that the bathwater is VRTD and the baby itself is vocational rehabilitation.  Kinda kills the metaphor, eh? []
Jun
11
2009
2

Weiner v Ralphs (en banc): Vocational Rehabilitation Ends

Weiner v. Ralphs spells the end of rehab

Weiner v. Ralphs spells the end of rehab

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board recently solicited amicus briefs regarding the Weiner v. Ralphs case.  After review of the amicus briefs on the topic of the repeal of Labor Code Section 139.5 and vocational rehabilitation, the WCAB has just issued their en banc opinion.[1]

Download a copy of Weiner v. Ralphs (en banc) right here:

Obviously, you’ll need to read and interpret Weiner v. Ralph’s for yourself.  Here’s the Board’s own summary:

  1. The repeal of section 139.5 terminated any rights to vocational rehabilitation benefits or services pursuant to orders or awards that were not final before January 1, 2009
  2. A saving clause was not adopted to protect vocational rehabilitation rights in cases still pending on or after January 1, 2009
  3. The vocational rehabilitation statutes that were repealed in 2003 do not continue to function as “ghost statutes” on or after January 1, 2009
  4. Effective January 1, 2009, the WCAB lost jurisdiction over non-vested and inchoate vocational rehabilitation claims, but the WCAB continues to have jurisdiction under sections 5502(b)(3) and 5803 to enforce or terminate vested rights; and
  5. Subject matter jurisdiction over non-vested and inchoate vocational rehabilitation claims cannot be conferred by waiver, estoppel, stipulation, or consent.

What does Weiner v. Ralph’s mean to you?

  1. Vocational rehabilitation is gone unless there is a “vested” right by way order that became final prior to 1/1/2009.
  2. If you already have a final order for vocational rehabilitation, the WCAB can still hear a dispute.
  1. Photo courtesy of larryfishkorn []
Mar
06
2009
1

Ready for testing: Future Life Pension Rate with SAWW/COLA

XYZZXSJO2 - The motion picture!

XYZZXSJO2 - The sequel!

Last week I posted about a recent case from the San Jose WCAB that indicated a life pension SAWW[1] increase is applied on the first January 1 after the date of injury.  You can find a download of the XYZZXSJO2 case here.

I’ve just finished the COLA / SAWW future life pension rate calculator to determine what the future life pension rates are assuming a COLA / SAWW increase of 4.7% per year.  If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester for this COLA / SAWW calculator for life pension increases, please drop me a line and ask for access. [2]

Please keep in mind that this is not a life pension with SAWW / COLA increase commutation calculator.  The actuarial math involved in performing that calculation is … intense.

As an interesting side note, this week I saw my very first DEU commutation of a life pension with COLA increase.  Unlike the typical commutations everyone receives from the DEU, this commutation calculation was devoid of the actual methodology used.  I was pretty disappointed to find this out.

No matter!  Help beta test the new calculator by dropping me a line.  After you’ve given it a whirl, let me know what you think.

  1. SAWW means State Average Weekly Wage []
  2. If you have already helped me out as a beta tester, you already have access to this calculator. []
Feb
25
2009
2

XYZZXSJO2 – COLA and SAWW Increase Starts After the Date of Injury

XYZZXSJO2 - The motion picture!

XYZZXSJO2 - The motion picture!

Last week while Steve was at the Sacramento WCAB he heard about a recent case that held the COLA / SAWW adjustments and increases are calculated based upon the first January 1 following the date of injury. [1][2]

This case involving SIF (the subsequent injuries fund) is from the San Jose WCAB.  The name of the case is “XYZZXSJO2 v. Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund, ADJ 1510738, SJO 0251902”.  The name of the Applicant was anonymized to protect their identity.  [3][4]

Download a copy of XYZZXSJO2 now!

Thus far the conventional wisdom has been that the COLA/SAWW increases are calculated starting with the first January 1 after life pension gets paid out.  This is a tremendous change in the COLA/SAWW calculation of life pension.

Assuming a 1/1/2003 injury at exactly 70% permanent partial disability, there would be 426.5 weeks of permanent disability paid after the permanent and stationary date before the life pension gets paid out.  This equates to 8.2 years from the permanent and stationary date that has, thus far, not been taken into account with life pension calculations to date.  To put this in perspective, if someone had an injury on 1/1/2003 and became P&S on that same date[5] , the traditional method of calculating the life pension with COLA / SAWW increase would be too low by approximately 44%.

At the moment I’m finalizing a COLA / SAWW life pension calculator to determine what the future life pension rates are assuming a COLA / SAWW increase of 4.7% per year.  If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester for this COLA / SAWW calculator for life pension increases, please drop me a line and ask for access.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a citation for the 4.7% COLA / SAWW increase, but I believe it to be the offiical average used by the DEU[6] to calculate commutations of COLA / SAWW increases and adjustments.  If you have an official citation or document from the DEU, please drop me a line so I can include that citation here!

  1. COLA = cost of living adjustment. []
  2. SAWW = state average weekly wage. []
  3. I hope to have a scan of this decision for you soon! []
  4. David DePaolo of WorkCompCentral.com has graciously allowed me permission to offer you a copy of XYZZXSJO2 for download!  Thanks David! []
  5. Not likely. []
  6. Disaiblity Evaluation Unit. []

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