Over a hundred years ago, the Pennsylvania legislature created a workers’ compensation system designed to compensate workers for losses incurred because of on-the-job injuries. This body of law has evolved over decades and recently a significant change occurred to Pennsylvania’s “Impairment Rating Evaluation” system, which had been in place for the last thirty years. So, what does this mean for future Impairment Rating Evaluations?
First, some background: An Impairment Rating Evaluation, or IRE, is a review of an injured worker’s disability, or specifically, his percentage of disability. Under the recently displaced system, employers and their insurance carriers could request an independent review of the “impairment rating” of an injured worker to determine this percentage, provided that the injured worker had already received two years of wage loss benefits.
Physicians, specifically-designated for this purpose, would conduct the IRE. Pennsylvania law mandated that an injured worker’s “impairment rating” follow a percentage system delineated within the American Medical Association’s (“AMA”) published guidelines. If the IRE resulted in a determination that the injured worker’s impairment rating was less than 50%, the employer could automatically cap wage loss benefits at 500 weeks.
In the landmark, 2017, PA Supreme Court Decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), attorneys for the injured worker claiming benefits argued that deferring to the AMA for a final determination on an injured worker’s recovery of wage loss benefits was conferring legislative authority on a non-governmental body, in this case, the AMA, and was therefore unconstitutional. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed, and the statute was overturned.
Employers, insurance carriers, workers’ compensation attorneys all wondered what was next. What would replace the old IRE system? Check back for the next installment as we continue our discussion of this major change in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law.
For 113 years, Powell Law has represented all types of workers in workers’ compensation cases. Call today to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. Powell Law’s unsurpassed qualifications make it an obvious choice for representation in a workers’ compensation case in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE.