A very new proposed bill, Senate Bill 10-187, has many changes of significance for Colorado. Here are some of the important proposed changes:
1. It wants to provide the claimant with the costs (not attorney fees) of obtaining medical maintenance benefits recommended by the authorized physician if they are unpaid and contested but the claimant gets them ordered or Respondents agree to pay within 20 days of the hearing. I assume this is to try to reimburse the claimant if he or she must go to a hearing and expert testimony costs are necessary.
2. It clarifies what is to be the average weekly wage calculation problem raised by a recent case (Avalanche). It proposes to use the date of injury or whatever the judge in his discretion deems fair (not to use two dates such as date of injury and date of disablement as appears in the Avalanche court case).
3. There is to be no Social Security offset on permanent partial benefits. Such an offset would often be so onerous that partial benefits might go to zero so this prevents that should it become law. For those not aware the law reduces your workers comp benefits by one half of your Social Security benefits to prevent what some say would be double benefits. It is the law and this proposal tries to eliminate the problem of the SS offset applying to partial disability cases.
4. Another proposal is that should an employee reject a modified job offer that it not be considered his responsibility (such that temporary benefits may end) if it is a reasonable decision or if the job offer is over 50 miles away. Employers at times have tried to stop temporary benefits by unreasonable job offers that are not very nice or accomodating. In other words this proposal lets the claimant explain to a judge why he cannot take the job and perhaps avoid stopping his temporary benefits.
5. Annually requires an adjustment in the caps (currently top dollar for all but permanent total benefits are $75000/$150000 combining temporary and permanent partial benefits).
6. Proposes that a claimant can get a lump sum of permanent partial benefits but not be required to waive a claim for permanent total benefits.
I think you can see that this proposed bill has many provisions so we'll see if it becomes law. By and large it is reasonable in its approach at least from the claimant's point of view. It is not possible to review this in more detail in this blog post but those interested may read it and follow it as it moves through the legislative process.