The new PA court decision allows injured workers whose benefits have expired due to an unconstitutional medical evaluation to seek reinstatement. Previously, once an injured worker had been receiving benefits for two years, an employer or insurer could order the injured worker to go to an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) to make sure that the worker was still disabled. The test, which was performed by a doctor, would assign a rating of under or over 50% impaired. Employers and insurers would use these evaluations to put injured workers on partial disability status, which meant that they would stop receiving their benefits and medical care after 500 weeks from the IRE.
In 2015, the Protz case deemed that the statute enabling employers to order IREs—the evaluations to put injured workers on partial disability—was unconstitutional. As of the case date, injured workers cannot be subjected to IREs that may lead to being put on partial disability—and thus have their wage and medical benefits expire after 500 weeks. The 2015 case was upheld and extended by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2017, scoring a great victory for injured workers going forward.
The problem was that the Protz cases did not address the plight of injured workers who underwent IREs and were deemed partially disabled before the Protz decisions but were still receiving benefits.These workers were in danger of having their benefits expire after 500 weeks, and injured workers whose benefits already expired after 500 weeks could not get their benefits restored. The Protz decision as it stood would only affect future cases of injured workers.
On June 6, 2018, however, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that workers whose benefits would expire or had already expired after 500 weeks can fight back. They now have the opportunity to return to court and prove they are still disabled. This is done by filing a petition seeking reinstatement, which Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano attorneys are helping clients with currently.
If you or someone you know has either had your benefits terminated because of an IRE, or you are going to have your benefits terminated because of an IRE, contact our Firm so that we can help you keep the benefits you deserve.