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Evaluations coming back for workers' compensation recipients

Recent legislation set by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is set to bring big changes to the state's workers' comp system. Now, some people receiving workers' compensation benefits will have to undergo a secondary evaluation years after leaving the workforce. This has some worried that the most severely injured victims could see a reduction in benefits.

In the summer of 2017, the state Supreme Court struck down the requirement for evaluations of injury victims two years after their accidents. At the time, the court pointed out that the state required physicians to use guidelines from the American Medical Association, which gave private groups the ability to determine how state-administered benefits should proceed. Under this, insurance providers for employers could request that injured employees undergo another medical evaluation.

The results of those assessments dictated how long victims could continue receiving benefits. Workers who were considered less than 35 percent hurt could have their benefits partially capped at the 10 year mark. Anything more than 35 percent and the worker could expect to receive full benefits for life. Opponents of the new legislation worry about the long-term implications, saying that they have the potential to limit benefits to victims who are suffering the life-long effects of a serious workplace accident.

It is not clear if those concerns are valid. However, the potential change to the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system should not discourage anyone who has suffered a work-related injury from seeking benefits. The time immediately following an accident is often fraught with worry and financial concerns, and workers' comp benefits are often the most effective approach to managing these issues.

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