Ohio Workers’ Compensation Wage loss compensation is payable when, as a result of the allowed medical conditions in a claim, an employee is either unable to find work within his physical capacities or has returned to a less strenuous or alternative job which pays less then the job which resulted in the industrial injury. The restrictions must be certified by the claimant’s physician of record (POR).
There are two (2) types of wage loss that are available to injured workers when they are unable to return to their former positions of employment and their doctor has returned them to work with restrictions.
The first type of wage loss is the Non-working wage loss. In this situation, the worker looks for work but is unable to secure employment. The worker is able to submit job search forms to the BWC for compensation. There are specific requirements that must be met to obtain this compensation benefit.
The second type of wage loss is the working wage loss. In this situation, the injured worker secures employment within the job restrictions placed by the doctor but suffers a wage loss. The worker can submit the paystubs from the lower paying job to seek compensation from the BWC in the amount of 66.667% (2/3) of the difference of pay. There are specific requirements that must be met to obtain this compensation benefit.
For Injury Claims which occurred prior to August 25, 2006, Workers’ compensation wage loss, in certain circumstances, is payable for a maximum period of 400 weeks. In the event that an injured worker first receives wage loss through the OhioBWC Rehabilitation Division O.R.C 4121.67, wage loss is available as living maintenance wage loss (LMWL) which is available for 200 weeks. At the end of 200 weeks of LMWL, the injured worker is eligible to seek an additional 200 weeks of wage loss through regular OhioBWC compensation, pursuant to O.R.C. 4123.56 (B).
In 2006, the Ohio Legislature changed and reduced wage loss benefits for injured Ohio Workers. This was the second assault on obtaining wage loss money by reducing the available wage loss weeks from 400 weeks to 225 weeks.
For Injury Claims which occurred on or after August 25, 2006, Wage loss is only payable for a maximum of 225 weeks, whether it is paid through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation Division or through the Ohio Bureau of Worker’ Compensation or a combination of both.
In 2014, the next assault on wage loss compensation by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation took place. The changes permit further reduction to the wage loss compensation payment an injured worker can receive.
A workers’ compensation lawyer who specializes in Ohio Work Comp should be consulted. You need an Ohio Workers Comp Attorney to protect your legal rights to money awards.
Here’s the link to the new rule O.A.C. 4125-1-01, effective February 13, 2014, which replaces the current wage loss rule. Highlights to the new wage loss rule are listed below:
Effective February 13, 2014, the Rules related to Wage Loss were modified once again. The latest iteration of the Rule further reduces Injured Workers’ benefits and makes seeking and obtaining wage loss even more difficult than before. Once an Injured Worker reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), at times, the only avenue to seek continuing bi-weekly compensation is through wage loss. But, as a result of the new Rules, even the rate of wage loss compensation is reduced depending on certain factors.
Summary of February 13, 2014 Changes to Ohio BWC Wage Loss Requirements
- All injured workers seeking wage loss compensation must provide a medical report with their wage loss application. The medical report must both list the restrictions caused by the allowed condition(s) and whether those restrictions are permanent or temporary. [(B)(2)(a) and (B)(2)(b)].
- If the restrictions are temporary, the initial medical report must indicate how long the restrictions are expected to last. [(B)(2)(c)].
- If the restrictions are permanent, the initial medical report must be dated within 90 days of the start date requested for wage loss compensation. [(B)(2)(d)].
- If the restrictions are temporary, the injured worker must provide a supplemental medical report every 90 days. [(B)(3)].
- If the restrictions are permanent, the BWC or self-insured employer can request a supplemental medical report every 180 days. [(B)(3)].
- Injured workers seeking non-working wage loss must submit job search statements for every week of non-working wage loss compensation requested. The job search statements must be submitted with the non-working wage loss application. Failure to provide job search statements will preclude payment of non-working wage loss. [(C)(1) and (C)(2)].
- Only if the BWC, Industrial Commission, or the self-insured employer excuse the injured worker from pursuing a job search, the injured worker seeking working wage loss must submit a job search for every week working wage loss is requested. [(D)(1)].
- Failure to conduct a job search is considered a voluntary limitation of income and wage loss will not be paid. [(D)(3)].
- Injured worker has the burden of establishing entitlement to wage loss compensation. [(E)].
- Injured worker must demonstrate compliance with all job search requirements. [(E)(1)].
- Injured worker must seek suitable employment with the employer at the beginning of the period for which wage loss is requested, unless it is demonstrated that such act would be futile. [(E)(1)(a)(ii)].
- To request non-working wage loss, the injured worker must register with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (or the equivalent state agency if they do not live in Ohio). [(E)(1)(a)(iii)].
- During the first 60 days, the injured worker may search for suitable employment within their skills; after 60 days, the injured worker must also search for entry level or unskilled work. [(E)(1)(b)].
- Job searches must be made in a “good faith effort.” This means “consistent, sincere, and best attempts to obtain suitable employment that will eliminate the wage loss.” The rule lists a number of factors considered when determining if the injured worker made a good faith effort. [(E)(1)(c)].
- An employer’s offer of employment will not be considered unless it is both “made in writing” and contains “a reasonable description of the job duties, hours, and rate of pay.” [(E)(2)(a)].
- In the absence of an exception, wage loss is paid based on the average weekly wage and the injured worker’s present earnings. [(G)(1)].
- If an injured worker fails to accept a good faith offer of suitable employment, wage loss will be 66 2/3% of the injured worker’s AWW and the weekly wage the injured worker would have earned had they accepted the offer. [(G)(2)(a)].
- In the event that an injured worker voluntarily limits his/her working hours, wage loss will be 66 2/3% of the injured worker’s AWW and the weekly wage the injured worker would have earned had they not limited their hours. [(G)(2)(b)].