Bulletin No. 61-04
December 3, 2004

Lien filing fee update

Effective January 1, 2004, Labor Code Section 4903.05 requires medical treatment providers and medical-legal lien claimants to contribute to the funding of the workers' compensation program through payment of a $100 filing fee for each initial medical or medical-legal lien filed in a workers' compensation case. The Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) previously issued Newslines concerning the lien filing fee on July 6, 2004 (Bulletin No. 34-04), April 6, 2004 (Bulletin No. 15-04), January 2, 2004 (Bulletin No. 1-04), and December 31, 2003 (Bulletin No. 20-03). In the event of any conflict, this Newsline supersedes those previously issued.

Section 4903.05 provides that:

  1. A filing fee of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be charged for each initial lien filed by providers pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 4903.
  2. No filing fee shall be required for liens filed by the Veterans Administration, the Medi-Cal program, or public hospitals.
  3. The filing fee shall be collected by the court administrator. All fees shall be deposited in the Workers' Compensation Administration Revolving Fund. Any fees collected from providers that have not been redistributed to providers pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 4603.2, shall be used to offset the amount of fees assessed on employers under Section 62.5.
  4. The court administrator shall adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the procedures for the collection of the filing fee.

To enable DWC to collect the initial lien filing fee as of its effective date, then-Administrative Director Richard Gannon, acting in the place of the court administrator, adopted Title 8, California Code of Regulations, Section 10250 as an emergency regulation. The emergency regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and transmitted to the Secretary of State with an effective date of January 1, 2004.

DWC thereafter commenced the process to adopt Section 10250 as a permanent regulation. However, on June 15, 2004, OAL disapproved the proposed permanent regulation and ordered the emergency regulation repealed. OAL found that the Administrative Director lacked authority to adopt Section 10250 because the Legislature expressly required the court administrator to issue rules to implement 4903.05.

On June 22, 2004, Barbara Steinhardt-Carter was appointed as acting court administrator. Prior to that date, the court administrator position had been vacant since its creation. On June 24, 2004, after independently reviewing the proposed regulation, Ms. Steinhardt-Carter adopted Section 10250. On June 30, 2004, OAL approved the resubmitted rulemaking and transmitted Section 10250 to the Secretary of State with an immediate effective date.

Based upon the foregoing, DWC will refund any lien filing fees collected on or before June 30, 2004. Completion of the refund process will occur within approximately 30 days of the date of issuance of this Newsline. In some cases, payers whose checks have not been cashed will have their original check returned.

Please do not contact DWC to inquire about the status of an anticipated refund during this initial interval, so that our staff can concentrate on efficient reimbursement. After January 3, 2005, any payer that has not received an owed refund should send an email describing the specifics of the lien fee payment(s), including check date, the name of the applicant, the WCAB case number, and a reliable daytime telephone number to ASKDWC@dir.ca.gov. Please do not contact the DWC District Office where the original lien payment was made, as all refunds will be made through the DWC Headquarters Office in San Francisco.

All initial medical or medical-legal liens filed through June 30, 2004 will be deemed valid and enforceable without payment of the fee. Commencing July 1, 2004, DWC will collect the initial lien-filing fee. EDEX users should receive invoices in the near future covering the interval from July 1 through the present.

DWC has received a number of recurring questions concerning the lien filing fee. A "frequently asked questions" page has been created on the DWC website and should be consulted for further information at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/FAQ_LLC4903_03.htm

The page will be updated as necessary to address new issues that arise.