Archive for May, 2010

Deputy and disability rating

Posted in Heart/Lung Bill on May 16, 2010 by leslie@lawyertampa

I’M LOOKING AT RETIRING IN ABOUT 3 YEARS ,I HAD A HEART ATTACK IN DEC 07 AND HAD 3 STENTS PUT IN AT THAT TIME AND ANOTHER LAST YEAR. I’M STILL EMPLOYED AS A DEPUTY, AFTER I RECEIVE MY DISABILITY RATING FROM MY DOCTOR WHICH SHOULD BE SOON . WILL I GET A CERTAIN AMOUNT EVERY MONTH DEPENDING ON THE RATING OR HOW DOES THIS WORK.

ANSWER:

The disability rating determines the amount of impairment benefits you receive.  They are referred to as IB benefits and are discussed in Florida Statute 440.15.

These payments have nothing to do with receiving permanent and total disability payments under workers’ compensation or in-line of duty retirement pay.

Any injured worker, whether under the heart/lung bill or not, gets IB benefits when they reach maximum medical improvement and they have a permanent physical or mental impairment.  Your treating doctor will use the Florida Impairments Guides, which is a book, to determine your percentage of impairment to the body as a whole.

You get paid 2 weeks of benefits for ratings between 1 and 10%; 3 weeks for ratings between 11 and 15%; and it goes higher from there.

These benefits are paid weekly, and they are paid at 50% of your compensation rate if you are still working and 75% of your compensation rate if you are not working.  Your compensation rate is 2/3 of your average weekly wage.

So for example, let’s say you earn $600 a week and you are still working and you have a 4% impairment rating.  Your compensation rate is $400 a week (2/3 of $600).  So you will get 8 weeks of benefits (4% x 2weeks = 8weeks) at 50% of your compensation rate ($400/2 = $200) or $200 x 8 weeks = $1,600 paid in weekly installments of $200.

Sometimes the carrier opts to pay it in a  lump sum, but these are really tiny payments unless you have a really high impairment rating, which is difficult under these guides. 

Also, remember if you retire, you are not eligible for permanent, total disability benefits through workers’ compensation because your heart problem didn’t cause you to become unemployable.  You retired.  Now if your authorized doctor (or any doctor for that matter) tells you you can no longer work at all because of your heart, then you leave the force, we have a different kettle of fish.

So be prepared.  Impairment benefits typically don’t amount to much.

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Police officer question re: hypertension

Posted in Heart/Lung Bill on May 16, 2010 by leslie@lawyertampa

I have been employed as a police officer for 20 years.   Approx. (6-7) years ago,  I suffered from high blood pressure on duty and had to be driven to the hospital for treatment.    About (6) months later,  I had severe chest pains on duty.  Again I was taken to the hospital   Each time I went to the hospital, I was given an EKG and I appeared fine.   I was diagnosed with hypertension, high colesteral, and diabetes.   I have been taking medication  for these health issues.  I was diagnosed a couple of years prior to problems at work.    Claims were filed with workmans comp. These temporarily paid for my medication while they viewed my health records.  6 months lately they denied the heart and lung bill, and claims discontinued paying for my medications.     Am I elgible for the heart and lung bill, and is it to late to appeal the denial through a lawyer?

ANSWER:

Having trouble responding on WordPress to e-mail, but I can still post.  So I am reprinting the question and my response.

There are 2 questions here.  The first has to do with the compensability of the hypertension.  The heart/lung bill simply requires you pass a pre-employment physical.  If you had signs of hypertension on the pre-employment physical the case would be difficult to win.

If you passed a pre-employment physical without signs of hypertension, but back in your medical records there lurks prior treatment for hypertension, these records can be used to rebut the presumption. 

So if you passed a pre-employment physical and developed hypertension, it is presumed in-line of duty by statute.  The burden then shifts to the employer to show by clear and convincing evidence some other cause for the hypertension, which can include prior (pre-employment), medical records.  It can also be as simple as testimony from a cardiac specialist that you are overweight and have high cholesterol.  The judge weighs what constitutes “clear and convincing evidence” but it is a much higher standard than preponderance of the evidence.

The second issue from our police officer involves the statute of limitations.  A claim for workers’ compensation can be brought within 2 years of your date of accident or within 1 year of your last medical treatment with your authorized workers’ compensation physician who treats you for the hypertension.  In addition, there is a 120 day “pay and investigate” rule.  If you have been getting medication for hypertension for more than 120 days while they sifted through your medical records, you can argue they are barred from denying your claim.