Newsline No. 69-12  
December 21, 2012  
Twitter @CA_DIR

Division of Workers' Compensation preparing balanced approach to SB 863 implementation
Information on all changes will be posted on website

The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is on target for implementation of Senate Bill 863’s effective date of Jan. 1, 2013. The division is taking a balanced approach that will reflect the bill’s intention to balance substantial benefit increases to injured workers with efficiencies and cost savings to employers.
Some aspects of SB 863 will become law on Jan. 1, 2013 without any regulatory action. For example, for injuries on or after Jan. 1, 2013, permanent disability indemnity benefits will automatically increase by approximately 30 percent overall. The new minimum rate will be $160 per week and the new maximum rate will also increase, based on the level of permanent disability indemnity, as follows:

For injuries on or after Jan. 1, 2014, the new maximum rate will be $290 per week for all PD levels.

For an injury on or after Jan. 1, 2013 that causes the employee’s death, reasonable expenses for the employee’s burial will increase up to $10,000.

Other aspects of SB 863 require implementation through regulations. To meet the Jan. 1, 2013 implementation deadline, DWC’s legal staff initiated the emergency rulemaking process overseen by the

Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Regulations required to effectuate the independent medical review process, the independent bill review process, lien activation and lien filing fee payment, qualified medical evaluator changes, supplemental job displacement benefits, and interpreter certification have been submitted to OAL for approval. Each of these emergency regulatory actions will be followed by the full rulemaking process, also overseen by OAL, over the next year.

DWC will continue to make improvements to its website to help stakeholders navigate the changes in the law. Informative content has now been posted that explains the efficiencies brought to the system through the following changes:

Independent Medical Review (IMR)

Independent Bill Review (IBR)

Lien Filing and Activation fees

For medical treatment expense lien claims filed before Jan. 1, 2013, a $100 lien activation fee must be prior to filing a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed to request a lien conference or prior to appearing at a lien conference. If the $100 lien activation fee is not paid by Jan. 1, 2014, the lien claim is dismissed as a matter of law.

Return to Work

SB 863 also brings significant changes regarding injured workers’ ability to return to work. Among those changes are:

We encourage everyone to check the DWC website for frequent updates on SB 863. Once the first parts of the law are implemented on Jan. 1, 2013, the information will reflect the changes and help stakeholders prepare for the next steps in this important reform package.