Oakland, CA – The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently launched the Return-to-Work Supplement Program for injured workers. This fund – which will quickly get an additional $5,000 to each eligible injured worker who has a disproportionate loss of earnings – is an important component of the workers’ compensation reforms in Senate Bill 863.
“This program is another example of the benefits that SB 863 brought about for injured workers,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “Many workers face economic hardship when they suffer disabling work injuries and this supplement will help them regain some of those lost earnings.”
DIR inaugurated the new program today with an online portal as well as kiosks that connect to the portal in its Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) offices across the state, allowing injured workers to easily file the application. All completed applications will be reviewed for eligibility within 60 days from the date of filing. Payment to workers will be made within 25 days of the eligibility determination.
Governor Brown’s landmark worker’s compensation reform, SB 863, became law on Jan. 1, 2013 with benefits to workers that included a 30 percent increase – more than $800 million per year – in permanent disability indemnity rates for workers, and an independent medical review (IMR) system for resolving medical treatment disputes with review by a physician to ensure that injured workers receive timely and appropriate medical treatment. Included in the major benefit increase is up to $120 million annually in Return-to-Work special funds, for injured workers whose employers do not offer them continued employment after the injury at approximately the same pre-injury income levels.
SB 863’s cost savings to businesses are also significant, resulting in lower medical loss, indemnity and medical severities. The recent proposal by the WCIRB for a reduction of 10.2% in pure premium rate from the approved average of Jan. 1, 2015 can be attributed in large part to the reforms’ cost-saving efficiencies.
Regulations for the Return-to-Work Supplement Program were approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and filed with the Secretary of State on April 6, 2015. These regulations will be implemented on April 13 and are authorized by Labor Code section 139.48.
Source: CA DIR