New COVID-19-Related Changes To Workers’ Compensation Board Guidelines

In response to COVID-19, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has made several policy and procedural changes to ensure that benefits for injured workers are not impacted. The guidelines were issued on March 16 for those making Workers’ Comp claims, attorneys, doctors, and insurance company representatives. If you have a new or existing claim before the Workers’ Compensation Board, the attorneys and staff at Segar & Sciortino are ready to help you navigate these new procedures.

Until further notice, all Workers’ Compensation Board hearings are being held virtually. All parties—injured workers, attorneys, employers, insurance company representatives, and any other participants, as well as the judge—will appear remotely by computer or mobile device. All parties will still receive a hearing notice for a specific date and time. More information on these virtual hearings can be found here.

Due to social-distancing requirements, the Workers’ Compensation Board relaxed the mandate that injured workers need to receive ongoing medical treatment every 90 days. In addition, the Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board has also adopted an emergency amendment allowing telemedicine and telephonic medical appointments instead of in-person visits for certain cases. Attorneys and claimants can now submit the notes from these remote visits as evidence of medical treatment.

It’s also very important that injured workers notify their attorney, doctor, and the Board if they cannot attend a scheduled Independent Medical Examination (IME). In certain situations, extensions may be possible. If a worker’s appointment is rescheduled for a different date and time by the IME doctor, that also needs to be shared with all parties.

In December 2019, the Workers’ Compensation Board adopted a new drug formulary which changed the process health care providers follow to prescribe medications for injured workers. The formulary had multiple phases with the second phase set to be begin on June 5. In an effort to lessen the impact on an already taxed health care system, the Board pushed back the start of that phase from June 5 to January 1, 2021. Starting next year, health care providers must obtain prior authorization for renewals of non-formulary medications. You can read more about the Workers’ Compensation Drug Formulary here.

For the time being, current Workers’ Compensation clients who receive partial disability payments, or those who are seeking permanency classification, do not need to provide documents of attachment to the labor market. Judges will postpone this requirement until the labor market in New York once again provides an opportunity for individuals to seek employment.

If you have any questions about how the Workers’ Compensation Board’s response to COVID-19 may affect the status of your claim or benefits, please contact Segar & Sciortino for a free consultation by calling or texting (585) 475-1100 or visit our website anytime at segarlaw.com.

Segar & Sciortino has served Western New York for over 25 years in the areas of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and Personal Injury (Accident) Law. We look at your case from every angle to help you get all the benefits you deserve.

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