What The Latest Updates To COVID-19-Related Workers’ Compensation Guidelines Mean For You

In response to COVID-19, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board made several policy and procedural changes to ensure that benefits for injured workers were not impacted. The guidelines were issued on March 16, 2020, for those making Workers’ Comp claims, attorneys, doctors, and insurance company representatives. On June 23, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that the state disaster emergency necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic would expire on June 24. In response, the Workers’ Compensation Board amended some of the changes that were implemented in March 2020.

Until further notice, all Workers’ Compensation Board hearings will remain virtual. 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.

Beginning August 16, 2021, current Workers’ Compensation clients who receive partial disability payments, or those who are seeking permanency classification, will again need to provide “documents of attachment” to the labor market. Judges will consider the special circumstances each claimant faces, including difficulties and obstacles that continue with respect to job searches, job placement, or vocational rehabilitation. However, partially disabled claimants should make efforts to attach to the labor market as soon as practical. This means:

  • Partially disabled claimants will be required to demonstrate a good faith, independent job search, or participation in job placement or vocational rehabilitation, that is appropriate given the confines of the remaining restrictions of the State of Emergency. Partially disabled claimants may utilize the Department of Labor’s Workforce services once it is re-opened to the public.
  • Such efforts should include use of online job placement and vocational rehabilitation services, as well as online and/or phone applications. Online, phone, and in-person interviews should be accepted. When an employer is following all Executive Orders governing business operations in the state, a job offer may not be refused solely because it requires in-person attendance at work.

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.

Please contact your Segar & Sciortino attorney at (585) 475-1100 with any questions to ensure that your Workers’ Comp benefits are not interrupted.

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.