Newsletter January 2007
Vol III, Issue I
CAAA will continue to challenge the Schwarzenegger Administration’s deep cuts in injured workers’ permanent disability (PD) compensation. President Linda Atcherley says, “We will continue our fight to overturn the governor’s drastic reductions in the already meager compensation permanently injured workers receive.”
Four studies have found the Schwarzenegger Administration’s ratings reduce compensation to permanently disabled workers by more than half. A UC Davis professor conducted one; another was by the State’s own Commission on Health, Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC); yet another was by an insurance expert; and the fourth was from the insurance carriers’ own ratings bureau. The studies have consistently shown the Schwarzenegger Administration’s schedule cuts PD compensation by an average of 50% to 70%. “The Schwarzenegger Administration’s Permanent Disability Ratings Schedule is inconsistent with SB 899, and is not based on empirical data. Its continued use relegates thousands of workers to subsist on constitutionally inadequate benefits,” Atcherley said. “The Schwarzenegger Administration failed to link the new permanent disability ratings to wage loss by using empirical data and findings.”
Do you have a horror story to tell? Many injured workers are losing their homes, cars and life’s savings due to inadequate compensation.
The hardship suffered by Californians injured at work will be important in persuading lawmakers to change the current law and disability schedule. Please share your story by visiting denialofcare.org (fill out the “Share your Story” form), or visit viaw.org, and fill out the “Bodies of Evidence” form. You can also tell your story be calling 916-457-5546.
Scott Hayes lived in Sacramento until his death at 45 in December 2006. His Job and What Happened: Scott worked for six years as a workers’ comp claims examiner. Scott worked very hard on his job, and in 1999 developed a herniated disk in his back and neck problems as a result of sitting all day doing his job. Scott filed a workers’ comp claim, and was fired that very afternoon. That was the beginning of Scott’s horror story, which lasted until his death. Scott was 100% disabled, settled his claim, and was awarded future medical care. Getting promised medical care became a full-time effort. Scott was repeatedly denied care and filed for more than 40 separate penalties for denial of care and compensation. Scott lived in tremendous pain - both physical and mental - from his injury. He couldn’t sit for long without having to lie down. He took pain medications or just suffered through the pain.
What this meant to his life: Scott became an advocate for injured workers. “If I, with my knowledge of workers’ compensation rules and regulations, have had such a difficult time in getting treatment and benefits, how can the average person with no experience get what they need?” Scott became a founding board member of VotersInjuredatWork.org, helping injured workers get the care and compensation they need.
His insurance carrier claimed Scott was now “working,” even though his service was as a volunteer with no compensation. This is a tactic insurers have used against other viaw.org board members.
How Workers’ Comp was supposed to help: Scott needed medical care for his continuing pain. He benefited from procedures like acupuncture that were routinely denied. Scott had to go to court to force the insurer to pay for a shot to ease his pain. Scott waited one year for a court date and then had to wait three months for the shot. Scott developed brain cancer which took his life.
TD CAP: On April 19, 2006, one of Senate Bill 899’s most merciless benefit cuts took effect: the two-year cap on temporary disability indemnity (TD). Any worker injured after SB 899 became law on April 19, 2004, who received 104 weeks of TD, regardless of their condition, may have their benefits terminated.
TD can be terminated 104 weeks after the first payment of TD, even if the worker returned to work. Regardless of how many weeks of TD the worker actually received, the TD clock runs from the first TD payment and keeps running for 104 weeks.
SEASONAL WORKERS: On August 31, 2006, the California Fifth District Court of Appeal held in Signature Fruit Co. v. WCAB F048255, that seasonal workers are not entitled to TD in the off-season. The court held that under Labor Code § 4453, an employee does not have any off-season earnings and does not compete in the open labor market during a portion of the year, and as such, the employee not entitled to TD payments during that season.
If you have been cut-off TD for either reason, you should file for State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits through the State Employment Development Department (EDD).
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Posted 01-01-2007 8:25 AM by caaaAdmin