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What Are Impairment Ratings in Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Claims?

In 2017, after nearly 20 years of stability, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system underwent change. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down impairment ratings for workers’ compensation, calling the language used for the law unconstitutional. Last October, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1840 into law. This law restored the use of impairment rating evaluations (IRE) in workers compensation claims made in the state.

Created in 1996, IRE process was a cost-saving measure which placed caps on the benefits that employers owed injured workers. This law allowed an employee’s benefits to change from total disability to partial disability if a doctor determined that they were less than 50 percent impaired. Once changed to partial disability, an injured worker faces a 500-week limit on their benefits.

Impairment ratings made a significant impact on the workers’ compensation market throughout Pennsylvania. Supporters of IREs claim that they add predictability to disability benefits and enable insurers to offer lower rates. However, many viewed the laws as an unfair way to obtain a lowered settlement for employers. Opponents of IRE assert that there are more fair and accurate ways to determine an injured worker’s ability to work. Pennsylvania’s new IRE law brings back portions of the old law with different impairment rating thresholds.

What House Bill 1840 Means for Workers

Now that it is law, House Bill 1840 brings back a modified version of Pennsylvania’s former IRE law. It now uses the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to accomplish impairment rating evaluation. Now, employers can use the IRE process to cap a worker’s benefits if a doctor determines that they are less than 35 percent impaired.

Call Handler Henning & Rosenberg Today for Help With Your Benefits

At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg, we know that IRE laws can limit benefits for injured workers who need them. Since we’ve existed since 1922, our firm has seen workers’ compensation laws change for nearly 100 years. One thing has not changed during this time: our commitment to our clients and earning results for them. We’ve won tens of millions of dollars for clients throughout our history, and we are ready to use our experience to fight for you.

Call us today at (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation with a member of our team. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about money because you’ll only pay a fee if we win your case!

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