Workers Comp Zone


Later, alligator.

That’s the message Acting Administrative Director Carrie Nevans delivered to future injured workers in her talk to a Sacramento workers’ compensation conference yesterday.

Earlier this year the DWC had floated a proposal for a revision of the 2005 Permanent Disability Rating Schedule. That proposal-designed for implementation in January 2009- would have restored a small amount of the cuts from permanent disability benefits endured by disabled workers since 2005. Several studies, including ones by several University of California faculty, have shown that injured workers may be receiving less than 50% of the benefits for permanent disabilities that they received before reform.

Somewhere in California there are currently workers pounding nails, erecting steel on skyscrapers, and paving roads on projects that will continue into 2009. Some of those workers will be injured after 1/1/09.
Those workers just got the shaft.

Nevans is now saying those workers injured in early 2009 will get no PD benefit increase.

As quoted in a piece by Jim McCaffrey on, Nevans announced that any benefit increase will not go into effect until July 2008. Even that is not guaranteed.

So now the DWC is not merely proposing an insubstantial PD benefits increase. The DWC is stalling on that increase. CHWSC, the bipartisan California Commission of Safety, Health and Workers’ Compensation has recommended upward adjustment of the PD schedule for several years now.

The legislature has spoken three years in a row, passing a bill that would dictate an increase only to see that vetoed 3 times.

It’s not clear at the moment whether the PD schedule revise is political payback for Nevan’s failed confirmation. Outgoing California Senate Pro-Tem Don Perata refused top bring the Nevans confirmation to a floor vote at the end of the legislative settlement as the budget impasse was resolved. I am not aware of any credible evidence that Nevans’ nomination was killed at the request of CAAA.

Nevans-who I don’t personally know-is said to be a decent person who cares about injured workers. Some argue that her leadership has resulted in some incremental regulatory changes beneficial to workers.
Others feel that she has been a steady hand at the DWC in a time of challenge and change.

Nevans is undoubtedly not calling the shots. But Nevans has been the face of the administration’s stall. And so some workers and labor advocates, unaware of any evidence of Nevans’ advocacy for workers within the political labyrinth of the Schwarzenegger administration, see Nevans as the fox guarding the henhouse.

One problem in the system is that the DWC rarely has to answer to the legislature and the press.

When the legislature reconvenes, it’s time for new Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg to hold hearings and demand answers from Nevans and legislative policy aide Susan Gard.

Note these prior pieces I did on the PD schedule issue:
“The PD Schedule Hearings:What’s At Stake?” … 720-212428

“The CAAA PD Schedule Proposal” … 726-141554
“Insurer Pofits Greater Than Benefits Paid To Injured Workers” … 518-115548

Julius Young
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Category: Political developments