3-9-12; Matt Ignoffo reviews changes likely coming to the Wisconsin worker's compensation system via Agreed Senate Bill 409 which was approved by the WI Senate 33-0 on February 21, 2012 and is...

Here are the highlights:

ü  Under current law, permanent partial disability benefits are subject to maximum weekly compensation rates specified by statute. Currently, the maximum weekly compensation rate for permanent partial disability is $302.00. Bill 409 increases the maximum rate to $312 for injuries occurring before January 1, 2013, and to $322.00 for injuries occurring on or after that date.

ü  This increased cost will potentially be offset by a change in the formula regarding payment of medical bills. Wisconsin does not have a workers’ compensation medical fee schedule. Disputed healthcare charges are reviewed by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) for reasonableness based on a database maintained by the department to determine an average cost.

ü  Currently, if a medical charge varies by more than 1.4 deviations from the average it will be held to be unreasonable. Under Bill 409 the threshold for reasonableness will be 1.2 deviations.

ü  Regarding vocational rehabilitation, Bill 409 proposes injured workers receiving voc services shall not have their TTD reduced on account of wages earned for the first 24 hours worked in a week while receiving voc. Wages earned for hours worked in excess of 24 during a week shall be offset against the worker’s average weekly wage in calculating compensation for temporary disability.

ü  This bill would prohibit the DWD from allowing compensation for permanent disfigurement for an employee who returns to work for his or her employer at the time of injury, or who is offered employment with that employer, unless the employee suffers an actual wage loss due to the disfigurement.

This article was researched and written by Matthew Ignoffo, J.D., licensed in IL and WI who can be reached at mignoffo@keefe-law.com.