NEWS / Legal News - January 2020
Employees are not entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits if they are no longer suffering from work injury
Damon Ewing sustained a work injury to his left ankle in December 2015 and subsequently received vocational rehabilitation services.
Mr. Ewing treated with several different doctors for his injury, but there was disagreement because some found that the work injury had resolved by April 20, 2016, but others found that it was ongoing.
The employer and insurer filed a Rehabilitation Request to terminate the Rehabilitation Plan on April 6, 2017.
A Compensation Judge ultimately ruled that the employee’s work injury had resolved by April 20, 2016, and denied all claims for rehabilitation benefits after that date.
The employee appealed, and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (“WCCA”) reversed, holding that the employer and insurer were liable for rehabilitation services until the date the Rehabilitation Request to terminate them was filed.
The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the WCCA. It held that if an employee is no longer suffering from a work injury, he or she is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
While this decision is certainly favorable for employers and insurers, it is still crucial to promptly file all Rehabilitation Requests to terminate the Rehabilitation Plan as payment for rehabilitation benefits will still be required through this date on cases that do not involve complete resolution of a work injury.
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