Major Changes to California Workers’ Compensation Affects Disability Benefits and Procedures for Claims
Senate Bill 863 was signed into law in September of 2012, and many of the bill’s major provisions took effect at the beginning of this year. This bill makes significant changes in California workers’ compensation law, including an increase in permanent disability benefits. However, the trade-off for an increase in benefits is cost-cutting in other areas, some of which may negatively affect the injured worker.
Click here for an overview of Senate Bill 863 from the Division of Workers’ Compensation at the California Department of Industrial Relations, or click here to read the text of the bill courtesy of the California Legislative Counsel. Below are just a few highlights of this massive bill, which numbers more than 100 pages.
- Permanent disability benefits will increase gradually over a two-year period until the maximum weekly rate is $290. In addition, workers whose permanent disability ratings are disproportionately low compared to their wage loss may be able to access additional payments from the newly-created “Return-to-Work Fund.”
- Some of the things going away include benefits for sleep disorders or sexual dysfunction attributable to physical injuries. Add-ons for psychiatric injuries will be limited to catastrophic injuries or cases involving violent crime.
- Supplemental job displacement vouchers, although still available, will be fixed at $6,000, as opposed to the previous system under which the voucher could range from $4,000 to $10,000. This voucher is available to qualified injured workers for job retraining.
Besides affecting benefits, SB 863 makes many changes to the workers’ compensation process, including Independent Medical Review, Medical Provider Networks, Qualified Medical Evaluators and Agreed Medical Evaluators. We will address these changes in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you have a question about a particular workers’ compensation matter or need professional legal assistance to receive your benefits from a workplace injury, accident or illness, contact the Law Offices of Sef Krell for immediate assistance. We are located in Encino and serve injured workers throughout Los Angeles County.