Action! Potential Updates to Workers’ Compensation

Prior to the 2017 reforms, New York has the 3rd highest workers’ compensation costs in the nation and high Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) awards are a significant contributing factor.  SLU awards base the benefit received by the employee on a formula instead of lost work time. This has resulted to the awarding of enormous awards for injuries that required little or no lost-time from work. New York State’s SLU guidelines have not been updated in any substantial form since 1996.

 

In the 20-plus years’ since, there have been significant medical advanced that have led to improved treatments and recuperation times for injured workers that are not reflected in the State’s present, yet outdated, guidelines, while the SLU awards have continued to escalate.

 

In an effort to help correct this and bring the SLU impairment guidelines into the 21st century, legislation was passed as part of the 2017 reforms, mandating the preparation and implementation of new SLU guidelines before 2018. The Workers’ Compensation board has released 2 drafts for “Workers’ Compensation Guidelines for Determining Impairment” and the second draft was released September 1st.

 

There are some concerns in regards to key provisions that would potentially create greater confusion, uncertainty and higher frictional costs.

  • Guidelines introduce a new system to assess impairments that require broad interpretations in the claimant’s control, specifically in regards to pain, range of motion and strength.
  • They ask judges to measure the “loss of earning power” without much of a definition.
  • Guidelines ask for creation of a new SLU-1 form, however this form was not included in the draft guidelines.

 

We are working with Unshackle Upstate, The Business Council, and other statewide partners to submit formal comments to the Workers’ Compensation Board to consider these concerns and ask that all of you take the time to submit comment as well. Submission portal can be found here

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