How the PA Supreme Court ruling on IREs affects injured workers

Posted June 29th, 2017 by .

Injured workers in Pennsylvania: If you underwent an IRE (impairment rating evaluation or exam) you may be entitled to additional benefits. Contact Munley Law to learn how the PA Supreme Court decision affects you. 

workers comp ireThe recent PA Supreme Court decision in Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Derry Area School District) may affect Pennsylvania workers who have received disability benefits.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on IRE process may entitle injured workers to additional benefits

Since 1996, employers could require injured workers to undergo impairment rating evaluations or IREs after two full years of receiving total disability benefits.  Under Section 306(a.2) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, IRE physicians used the most recent edition of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to calculate an impairment percentage. If a patient was deemed less than 50% impaired, they would qualify for only partial disability. Partial disability means reduced benefits, which are capped at 500 weeks or about 10 years. After that ten-year period, benefits would terminate.

The claimant in this case argued that this practice effectively delegated unfettered legislative power  to the AMA. Any update or revision of the AMA guidelines would, in effect, change the law surrounding workers’ compensation benefits.

On June 20, 2017, the court ruled this delegation of power to a non-legislative body unconstitutional, and scrapped Section 306(a.2).

In light of this ruling, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has issued the following statement: “Effective immediately, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will no longer designate physicians to perform Impairment Rating Evaluations.

With impairment ratings gone, injured workers may have the opportunity to revisit their claims. If you underwent an IRE and exhausted your 500 weeks of benefits, you may be eligible for additional compensation. Contact Munley Law for a free consultation to learn more. A workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm can determine how this decision affects your benefits.

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