Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) Insider

EAMS insider image

Issue 4 October 6, 2008

Welcome to EAMS Insider, the newsletter about the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).

The Division of Workers’ Compensation fields many questions from injured workers, employers, attorneys, insurers, lien claimants, and others about the new system. This newsletter was created to answer those questions and share information. Every two weeks, EAMS Insider will provide information on new developments and what to expect during this transition. Bulletins will also be sent to subscribers for important announcements. (Sign up to be a subscriber at EAMS@dir.ca.gov.)

What you need to know

For a quick primer on EAMS, point your browser to www.dwc.ca.gov/eams. There, you will find a project overview, fact sheet, FAQs, OCR forms and sample filings, blogs from DWC Judges Colleen Casey and Bob Norton, application demos and a glossary. Even if you have visited the Web site before, be sure to check back often for updates, “how to” guides and other useful tools. The main page recently had a makeover, and it’s much easier to find what you are looking for. Check it out!

EAMS updates

Because there are so many developments happening in EAMS world, The Insider will be coming to you every two weeks with the latest announcements.

DWC has been officially working in EAMS since Aug. 22. Staff members now work on cases electronically (unless they have to look at a paper legacy file). They are fine-tuning their ability to navigate the system, while at the same time training external parties on how to file their documents and on other key business process changes. Things are still evolving, and will continue to do so until the new regulations become effective and codify filing and other court procedures. In the meantime, we are learning valuable lessons from our external partners about their experiences working with EAMS. We appreciate your patience during this transitional period.

Scanning progress!

  • At go-live, the percentage of new documents successfully processed on the first try was 52 percent
  • The current rate is 82 percent, and increasing each day as staff become more familiar with the new process

Of course, scanning documents into EAMS works best when the OCR forms designed for the system are used. Currently, external parties are filing on paper using OCR forms voluntarily, for which we thank you! If you are still using legacy forms, the time to get familiar with and begin using the OCR forms is now, because the regulations that will make them mandatory will soon become effective. What we hope will be the final version of the forms will be posted on the Web site as soon as this week, so know where they are and be prepared to use the new forms as soon as they are released. The scanners at district offices will also be optimized for the new forms upon their release, so again, the system will work best if external parties stay up to date by using the latest forms.

e-Form progress!

  • Many external parties are participating in our e-forms trial, in which they agreed to submit all of their documents electronically
  • Round one of the e-Forms trial began Sept. 22
  • Ninety-two percent of e-forms were successfully processed
  • Round two begins today (Oct. 6) and the new participants received training on e-Forms from DWC Oct. 2
  • The division envisions bringing new groups into the e-Forms trial every two weeks, so send an email to eams@dir.ca.gov with “e-Forms trial” in the subject line to find out how to get in
  • Don’t know what the e-Forms trial is? Check out the “working in EAMS” section of www.dwc.ca.gov/eams
  • Did you know there is a computer based training for e-Form filers on the Web? Click on the “working in EAMS” page to use the valuable resource for e-Form filers.

Train the Trainer: In August and September, DWC and its superb team of external users conducted five “train the trainer” sessions for external users in Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento. There is still a demand for these sessions, which focus primarily on filing forms and documents in EAMS. DWC will schedule one more session in Los Angeles before the regulations become effective and will likely conduct future sessions over the Web. Please bookmark the EAMS page on the DWC Web site and look for future announcements and project updates: www.dwc.ca.gov/eams. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the DWC Newsline, this is also a must-have for staying up to date.

To bring added value to the training sessions, the DWC convened a group of claims administrators, attorneys and lien claimants to help craft advisory and educational materials targeted to external users.

The team of external users the DWC is working with has played an integral role in helping get system users ready to work in EAMS, and they’ve done it all voluntarily while continuing to perform their regular duties, for which the division is extremely grateful.

New FAQs: DWC is constantly making improvements to the EAMS Web site and is working to make the changes more apparent to frequent visitors. We will also compile the new and updated FAQs and send them out in this bi-weekly edition of the EAMS Insider. Here are the FAQ updates for September. For the full selection of questions and answers, visit www.dwc.gov/eams and click on frequently asked questions under “EAMS information.”

These updates were made between Aug. 19 and Sept. 29.

Topics covered in this FAQ update include:

Claims administrator-specific questions
EAMS training and resources
Filing in EAMS
Filing OCR forms
     The OCR cover sheet
Filing e-forms
Participating in an e-forms trial
Correspondence/serving parties
Electronic data exchange system (EDEX)
Lien claimant-specific questions

About claims administrator-specific questions:

Q: If I am filing a new case that has not yet been assigned a case number, do I still write “Unassigned” in the space for the case number?

A: No.  Check the “Yes” box at the top of the document cover sheet indicating a new claim, then leave any spaces for the case number blank.  EAMS will automatically assign a case number.

Q: Where do I use the uniform assigned name for my organization?

A: On all forms that have a field designated for claims administrator and in the “author” field of the document separator sheet if someone in your organization filled out the form or documentation that follows the separator sheet in the file.

Q: What if the form has a field for both claims administrator and insurance carrier information, such as the application for adjudication or the compromise and release?

A: Use the uniform assigned name of your organization in the claims administrator field and the formal name of the insurance carrier in the insurance carrier field. You must fill in the insurance carrier field on these forms, even if it is the same organization. For example, if the State Compensation Insurance Fund was submitting a C&R in a case, the filer would put the uniform assigned name, such as SCIF INSURED GLENDALE, in the field for claims administrator, and STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND in the field for insurance carrier.

About EAMS training and resources:

Q: When will training for external users be available?

A: Information and training materials for both e-forms and OCR forms users is available on the “working in EAMS” Web site. The materials include computer based training, an OCR forms handbook and file setup examples, a timeline, a decision point presentation and a forms submission demo. The division is working with a team of external users to prepare additional advisory and training materials.

Train the trainers sessions were held in Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento in September. Sign up for the DWC Newsline to get information about other training sessions.

About filing in EAMS:

Q: May I continue to file the old forms and documents in the same manner after EAMS goes live on Aug. 25, 2008?

A: Until the regulations requiring use of optical character recognition (OCR) forms become effective, the DWC will continue to accept the old (current) forms. However, since the new OCR forms are available and work best in EAMS, external users are encouraged to use them.

Once the EAMS regulations requiring use of OCR forms are in effect—likely in early November—all filings must be on the new forms. In the interim, documents filed on old forms will require DWC clerks to convert the data on the old forms onto the new forms, which could result in backlogs and delays in filing. So, although you're not required to use the new forms until regulations become effective, it is in the best interest of all parties, and the workers' compensation system as a whole, to start using the new forms now.

Q: What about electronic forms?

A: Electronic forms, or e-forms, are filed over the Web into EAMS and require a log-on and password to access. E-form filing is now available to a selected group of volunteer external users who are participating in an "e-forms trial." Part of the reason for the e-forms trial is to help DWC develop its e-form filing regulations. Once those rules go into effect, e-forms will become generally available to external users. See the EAMS filing method timeline for more information about the timing of filing options in EAMS.

Q: What is the difference between filing OCR forms and filing e-forms?

A: The basic difference is that e-forms are electronic and OCR forms are paper. Currently there are only two ways to get information into EAMS: by e-forms, which are submitted electronically over the Web, and by optical character recognition (OCR) paper forms, which are scanned into EAMS at the district offices.

For more information about these two filing methods, check out the forms submission demonstration, the decision point presentation and the written information available on the “working in EAMS” Web site. You will need to make a decision as soon as possible regarding which method you intend to use.

Q: Can you tell me more about e-forms?

A: E-forms are filled out within EAMS, which requires using a log-on and password for access. Organizations or entities that have volunteered and were selected to file all forms and documents electronically in the e-forms trial, and who have completed the EAMS computer based training (CBT), have received a log-on and password enabling them to access EAMS, fill out e-forms online, attach electronic documents, (such as medical reports, in a process similar to adding an attachment to an e-mail), submit the forms and attachments to EAMS and receive confirmation of their filing, all online.

Log-ons and passwords will become generally available for other external users once e-form regulations have been finalized. For information on how to participate in an e-forms trial, refer to the training and resources questions in this FAQ.

About filing OCR forms:

Q: When will the regulations requiring use of the OCR forms become effective?

A: The target date is early November 2008 for the effective date of the regulations.

Q: What if my company cannot start using the OCR forms yet? Is there anything else we can do to help avoid district office scanning backlogs, and to move our files through the system as fast as possible?

A: Yes. While the division understands that some institutions face business constraints regarding EAMS implementation, it benefits everyone to use the new forms as soon as possible. It may not be possible for some groups to be ready to use e-forms or OCR forms right away, but everyone should begin prepping files without binders, clips, two-hole punches, staples, sticky notes or folds.

If it is impossible to use OCR forms as of 8/25/08, at least prepare the OCR cover sheets and separator sheets to accompany your old documents, which will help avoid a backlog of documents requiring DWC clerk preparation of the cover sheets and separator sheets.

The more voluntary compliance the division gets with the use of new OCR forms, new cover sheets and separator sheets, the easier it will be for everyone to process files in EAMS.

Q: My documents are already in electronic format. Can I file my documents by CD?

A: Yes. Between Sept. 2, 2008 and the date on which regulations requiring use of OCR forms become effective—likely in early November—a temporary CD filing option is available for those who already have their documents in an electronic format, but who are not ready to file using OCR forms. This temporary filing option allows users to submit electronic "legacy" forms and supporting documents to the district office in a specific format on CD. For more information, visit the “working in EAMS” Web site.

Q: I've heard forms vendors have been working with DWC to make their forms EAMS-compatible. How can I get a list of approved software forms vendors?

A: While many forms developers have been working with DWC to test their forms to ensure they will work in EAMS, the DWC will not certify software vendors or forms developers. It is the vendor's responsibility to ensure compatibility of their forms with DWC scanners. DWC has provided the forms testing lab for that purpose. A vendor's visit to our testing lab does not ensure their developed forms are compatible with EAMS. Therefore, DWC will not be releasing a list of the vendors who have visited the lab.

If you'd like to use the lab to test your forms, contact EAMS@dir.ca.gov and put "OCR Forms Testing Lab" in the subject line of your e-mail.

DWC's OCR forms are available on the EAMS Web site.

Important printing note: The preferred method for most of the forms which will yield the best results from our testing of various printers from Adobe is: "Fit to Printable Area" with "Center and Autorotate" turned on and zoom factor at 96 percent. Other print options may not result in as good results.

Q: I notice the OCR DOR form has space for only one case number.  If an injured worker has multiple cases, will I need to file a separate DOR for each relevant case?

A: No.  A single DOR is sufficient if the document cover sheet lists all the cases to be included in the DOR.  At the “Hearing Case” level, EAMS will automatically link all cases listed on the cover sheet as companion cases and designate the first as the “driver” case for the purposes of scheduling.

About the OCR cover sheet

Q: If I file multiple OCR forms or documents, do I need a document cover sheet for each?

A: The OCR document cover sheet is a six-page form that allows you to file forms and documents in up to 15 cases in a specific unit for one injured worker.  The cover sheet tells EAMS who is filing the forms and documents, which file they belong in, and what to do with them, such as route them to a judge for review and action.  Only one cover sheet is needed for each set of forms that pertain to that injured worker.  A separator sheet is filed with each document to tell EAMS where the document is to be stored in the file, so that it can be retrieved easily without searching the entire file.

Q: If there are fewer than 15 cases, is it necessary to file all six pages of the document cover sheet?

A: No.  Do not file blank pages with the cover sheet.

Q: For an existing case, is it necessary to list the date of injury and all body parts on each document cover sheet that is filled out?

A: No.  Check the “No” box at the top of the cover sheet indicating that the case is not new.  EAMS will already contain date of injury and body part information for existing cases.  If the case is new, the “Yes” box must be checked at the top of the cover sheet and the date of injury and body parts must be listed on the cover sheet as well as the application.

Q: In what instances would you select INT as the product delivery unit on the document cover sheet?

A: INT is the integrated case, which holds overarching information and contains the unit specific product delivery cases.  As an external user, you will never select the INT case.  You will select ADJ for an adjudication form or document, DEU for the Disability Evaluation/Rating unit, VOC for Vocational Rehabilitation, RSU for Return to Work/Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit, UEF for an Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust case, or SIF for a Subsequent Injuries Fund Benefit Trust case.

Q: Is it required that copies of the document cover sheet and separator sheets be included when serving filed documents on the other parties?

A:  No.  The cover sheet and separator sheets are for scanning purposes only.

Please see the OCR form filing handbook for further details.

About filing e-forms:

Q: After I submit an e-form, can I go back into the case to look at the e-form I submitted and print it?
A: E-forms go through an automatic batch process, which is run four times per day. If they successfully make it through that process they'll show up in EAMS following the batch process. This means that if you file something in the morning you should see it in the file that afternoon. If you file later in the day, you should see it in EAMS the next business day.

If your submission doesn’t make it through the batch process because of some sort of defect in the form, it will go into the unprocessed document queue where a DWC employee will either correct the error or notify you to correct the error and resubmit the batch.

You can print the e-forms for service on the other parties by using the PDF print function at the top of the e-form. This is a new function that eliminates the need to print one tab at a time. 

Q: Do I still need to serve the other parties with copies of the e-forms and documents I filed electronically through EAMS?

A: Yes. Parties are required by law to serve on all other parties, all documents and forms filed with the DWC district office. You can print the e-forms for service on the other parties by using the PDF print function at the top of the e-form. This is a new function that eliminates the need to print one tab at a time.  It also allows you to save the e-form to your hard drive in a PDF format.

Q: Time on: Will users get timed out of the system?

A: Yes. If you are not actively working in EAMS you will be timed out after 15 idle minutes. If you are working on an e-form, the inactive time out is set to 30 minutes. This means that if you get timed out of EAMS while on an e-form, you can log back in and finish. You will receive a warning message before being timed out.

Experience is showing that the best practice is to be ready with all your documents, attachments, information, etc, at your fingertips so that when you are working on e-forms you don’t have to stop.

Remember to log out when you are finished filing in EAMS.

About participating in an e-forms trial:

Q: What is the e-forms trial and who may participate?

A: E-forms are electronic Web forms submitted one at a time over the Internet to file documents in EAMS. Attachments are submitted in electronic format as attachments to the e-forms, much like attachments to e-mail. E-forms are not paper forms. The EAMS paper forms are called OCR forms. For more information regarding EAMS e-forms and OCR forms please watch the EAMS decision point and forms submission demonstration on our Web site.

The objectives of the EAMS e-forms trial are to enable trial participants to file all of their documents in EAMS using e-forms beginning as soon as possible after EAMS goes live in order to reduce the amount of paper coming into the system, and to help DWC develop regulations for e-form filing.

Since you need a logon and a password to access e-forms, and logons will be issued to a filing location (not an individual) on a limited basis, you must agree to file all documents from that location into EAMS using e-forms and you must accept the contractual conditions of the e-forms trial to participate.

Once you've reviewed the decision point and forms submission demos, along with the e-forms trial agreement posted on the “working in EAMS” Web site, and have decided you'd like to be considered for the e-forms trial, send an e-mail to eams@dir.ca.gov with "e-forms trial participation" in the subject line.

Q: Is it too late to get into an E forms trial? I read the requirements and think I qualify.

A: The first round already started but you can submit your request to participate in subsequent rounds now. Requests for participation in the e-forms trial must be submitted on behalf of your entire organization or entire office. All filings from your office during the e-forms trial will be by e-form. Send an e-mail request to be part of a new e-forms trial: EAMS@dir.ca.gov and put "e-forms trial request" in the subject line of your e-mail.

About correspondence/serving parties:

Q: Is it required that copies of the document cover sheet and separator sheets be included when serving filed documents on the other parties?

A:  No.  The cover sheet and separator sheets are for scanning purposes only.

Q: Where do I put the proof of service when I file an OCR form, such as a DOR?

A: If you are filing only one form, with no supporting documents, the proof of service is placed just under the form, without a separator sheet between the form and the proof of service. If you are filing a form with one or more supporting documents, you will place the proof of service last with its own separator sheet on top.

Q: How do I change or add a name or address in the EAMS database?

A: Forms filed in EAMS automatically create new workers' compensation case files or open existing case files. Part of this automated process involves associating the related parties to their cases. To ensure that parties are properly associated to cases in EAMS, a uniform naming convention was created by the DWC for claims administrators (insurance carriers who self-administer claims, third party administrators, and self-insured self-administered employers) and representatives (attorneys and non-attorney representatives).  Uniform names for claims administrators' offices and representatives' offices are assigned by the DWC’s Central Registration Unit (CRU).  Changes or additions of name, location, mailing address, telephone, e-mail, fax, or preferred method of service must be submitted to the CRU on letterhead with an authorized signature.  Requests may be submitted by e-mail to cru@dir.ca.gov or by fax to (888) 822-9309.  The new assigned name or information will be posted within 10 business days of receipt of the request.

Before EAMS go-live, DWC pre-registered approximately 300 claims administrators' offices and 1,400 representatives' offices, accounting for approximately 80 percent of current case volume. Claims administrators' offices and representatives' offices that are not pre-registered must promptly register with the CRU to obtain uniform names for filing forms in EAMS. Requests for new office names or name changes must conform to the naming convention.

At this time the CRU is registering only claims administrators' offices and representatives' offices. Other types of case participants must notify the district office of changes of name, mailing address, or telephone number.

Q: When a party edits their address information in EAMS, how will other parties be notified?

A: Editing your information with the CRU only constitutes notice to the DWC/WCAB of the change. EAMS does not serve notice on other parties for you.  All case participants must notify all other case participants of any change of name, mailing address, or telephone number

About EDEX:

Q: What changed in EDEX when EAMS went live?

A: The division worked with all the state's EDEX vendors to ensure the majority of services provided through EDEX could continue. However, because the system from which EDEX gets data changed, some of the data flowing through EDEX also changed.

EDEX is essentially a conduit through which system users, such as lien claimants, health care organizations, attorneys and others get information about cases before the DWC/Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). Before EAMS went live, EDEX provided data contained in the WCAB online system to individuals and groups who used it in their case management functions and to file liens in workers' compensation cases. When EAMS went live, the data contained in the WCAB online system was moved over to EAMS and the WCAB online system was turned off. Because the system the division uses to house and manage its data changed, and because the laws have changed since EDEX was initially implemented, the way in which data is relayed through EDEX and the data available to some EDEX users also changed.

Q: What exactly is different?

A: EDEX subscribers have been separated into two groups (governmental entities and private entities) with different levels of access to information. EDEX vendors are responsible for separating their clients into the two groups. Additionally, EDEX vendors are required to provide certification of each "governmental entity" client, otherwise the default return criteria for requested information will be at the level of "private entity."

This distinction is made because under the law governmental agencies have the right to more information than private entities.

Governmental entities-state and local agencies such as cities and counties-may search the system using Social Security numbers and will receive those numbers, along with injured worker addresses, with information received through EDEX.

Private entity subscribers may search the system using Social Security numbers, but the information returned from EDEX now contains only the last four digits of the Social Security number, along with ZIP Code and date of birth. The injured worker's residence address is no longer provided to private entity subscribers. The subscriber receives the name and address of the injured worker's attorney for service of liens and supporting documentation. If the injured worker is represented, the injured worker's law firm information will be provided. The absence of law firm information will indicate the injured worker is unrepresented.

Q: Any other changes?

A: Yes. Following the transfer to EAMS, the ability to file an electronic notice of intention to file a lien in EDEX ceased and lien claimants now need to file perfected liens at the district offices once they find the case in EDEX.

This was required by state law and regulation prior to the move to EAMS, but generally was not done correctly. For lien claimants, this means first billing the insurance company/employer, waiting the statutory period of time for the bill to be paid timely, then filing the lien with documentation of the services provided if the insurance company/employer does not pay the bill. Having the perfected lien will allow the lien claimant to access the adjudication file information, will allow the lien claimant to receive service from DWC of all hearing dates, will allow the judge in the case to decide the claim, and will move cases more expeditiously through the system with minimal required continuances or docket impact. Having the address of the injured worker's attorney will allow the lien claimant to serve the lien.

DWC is also working with the WCAB to revise regulations related to liens to clearly state that, when the case in chief has been settled, the lien claimant doesn't have to serve the injured worker. In this way, there is no need to have the injured worker's residence address.

DWC expects that most potential lien claimants will now:

  1. Identify the case on which they want to file through EDEX
  2. Bill the employer/insurance company for the services
  3. Monitor the significant case events through EDEX, and then
  4. File their lien and documentation at the district office.

Q: What about EDEX subscribers who are not lien claimants?

A: Subscribers who are not lien claimants, such as defense law firms, carriers and others, may continue to receive significant event notification through EDEX as private entity subscribers. Now that the new interface is in place, new case opening information does not contain injured worker addresses and only contains the last four digits of the Social Security number. Any subscriber, whether governmental or private, can request hearing notices on specific cases through EDEX, since only the case participants automatically receive hearing notices from DWC through EAMS.

Q: Will there be regulatory changes associated with this?

A: Yes. The WCAB regulations are being amended to clarify that a lien may be filed before the parties are served. Section 10770 will be amended to state that if an applicant is represented the lien only needs to be served on the attorney of record and not additionally on the applicant.

Once the perfected lien is filed, the lien claimant is a party to the case and may obtain the injured worker's residence address (which will be needed for service on an unrepresented applicant).

In order to reduce service requirements overall, regulations will also be revised to state that if the case has been settled by C&R, or the applicant's case in chief has been completely resolved, the medical provider does not have to serve the injured worker or their representative because, by that point, they are completely out of the case. By doing this, DWC reduces the number of parties that need to be served in the lien process.

Q: How does DWC envision providing support to EDEX subscribers around these changes?

A: DWC established a working group with all the EDEX vendors to develop the new interface and to educate subscribers about the changes. DWC continues to provide updated information on this Web site. If you have questions on this process, please submit them to your EDEX vendor, who will pass them on to DWC.

About lien claimant-specific questions:

Q: Can I save an OCR form to my computer after I have filled in all case specific information on the EAMS Web site?

A: It is possible to save filled out EAMS OCR forms with all the information you entered, but it requires that you have a full version of ADOBE Acrobat, or another software package that will allow this (not just the free ADOBE Acrobat Reader) installed on your computer. From the DWC Web site alone, without additional software installed on your computer, you are only able to save a blank OCR form.

Q: Can I save my lien e-form as a file?

A: Yes. The form now allows you to save it on your hard drive as a PDF and also print the entire document at one time from this “PDF print” feature.

Q: How do I withdraw a lien?

A: The current practice of submitting a letter to withdraw a lien remains unchanged.

How you can help

When you have a question about filling out the OCR forms, email EAMSHelpDesk@dir.ca.gov. Our experts will assist you.

When you have an issue dealing with EAMS, email EAMS@dir.ca.gov. We will make sure it gets to the right person.

EAMS Insider is published every two weeks by the DWC Communications Office. It can also be found on the division’s Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/EAMS. Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email EAMS@dir.ca.gov

EAMS Public Information Officer Peter Melton