A Breakdown Of Workers Compensation Impairment Rating Examination Processes

In 2017, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling determined that employers and insurers could not limit or reduce workers compensation benefits based on Impairment Rating Evaluations. The attorney at Foley Law Firm offer a free initial consultation to determine if your workers compensation benefits should be reinstated. In Scranton, PA, a Workers Compensation Impairment Rating Examination Attorney can provide assistance with all of your workers compensation needs.  

A well-dressed man has his vital signs taken by a doctor.

An IRE is performed two years after an injured worker has been receiving workers compensation benefits. 

What Is Workers Compensation Impairment Rating Examination?

A workers compensation impairment rating examination (also referred to as an IRE) is an examination designed to determine the level of whole-body impairment from an on-the-job injury. The exam takes place after an injured worker has been receiving benefits for two years. The result of this exam could be to limit or cap the amount of workers compensation received, which is detrimental to workers who are unable to return to their jobs or who are unable to make a full recovery. The examination is required to be performed by a physician working at least 20 hours per week and in accordance with the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Once the exam is completed, benefits are adjusted based on the level of impairment. For example, if the physician finds less than 50 percent impairment, the injury is categorized as partial and the length of time for which benefits would be paid becomes limited. This system left many workers without benefits after a certain time period and has been met with significant legal challenges.

A workers compensation impairment rating examination is designed to determine whole-body impairment and cap benefits. Let a qualified attorney help you maintain benefits.

Legal Challenges To Workers Compensation Impairment Rating Examinations

Prior to 2017, doctors performed IREs by using the 6th edition of the AMA Guide, which led to lower ratings. An affected worker challenged this procedure by claiming use of the newer guide was an unconstitutional delegation of power because only the legislature can dictate which edition is intended to be used by the wording of the law. Essentially, allowing a doctor to infer legislative intent by use of their edition of choice was claimed to be improper. The Supreme Court agreed, and in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), the Court ruled IREs could no longer be performed. Thereafter, the Workers Compensation Bureau changed its policy and no longer designated physicians to perform IRE exams. The practical effect for workers is such that, upon approaching two years’ worth of benefits, there is no need to be concerned that you will be required to submit to an IRE and potentially limit the length of time benefits are paid.

What To Do If You Have Undergone A Workers Compensation Impairment Rating Examination

If your case is one that was decided prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Protz, and you have had your benefits capped after reaching the maximum time limit previously in place, you have the right to ask for your benefits to be restored. The rule of law set forth by the Supreme Court works retroactively, meaning the concepts set forth in the decision of the Court should be applied to workers who had a case arise before the State Supreme Court issued its ruling.

Call us for Help

If you need assistance with a workers compensation impairment rating examination matter, call us today. We offer expert advice in the areas of workers compensation, medical malpractice, and personal injury.  You may schedule an initial office consultation by contacting us online, or by calling us at (800) 523-6539.

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