Sunday, August 27, 2006

X-Stop Device for Spinal Stenosis

Dr. Jack Wilberger's comments on the x-stop device to relieve spinal stenosis.

Act 109 Requirements

Act 109 of 2006 becomes effective on September 5, 2006. The Act provides that WCJ’s must direct reimbursement of outstanding support liens to PASCDU when a net award of benefits to the Claimant exceeds $5,000.00. The lien value that will be used is the amount posted at Attorneys may register and obtain the information for use in Act 109 compliance. One other important consideration is that the Claimant information upon which verification of the lien is based must be presented to the WCJ in writing, with verification subject to 18 Pa.C.S.A. Section 4904.

Disputes will arise, particularly due to a collection authority placing an entire month’s obligation as a lien on the first of the month. A printout should be requested on the last day of the month to avoid this issue.

In the event of a dispute, the WCJ has the authority to order that the undisputed amount be paid to PASCDU and the disputed amount escrowed by Claimant’s Counsel. Since there is no workers’ compensation issue beyond the validity of the support arrearage data, the WCJ will ordinarily not exercise the WCJ’s authority under Rossa v. WCAB (City of Philadelphia) to resolve the dispute.

Commonwealth Court Defines Role of Claimant's Designated Health Care Provider Who Attends Independent Medical Examination

In M. Knechtel v. WCAB (Marriott Corporation), the Claimant elected to have a health care provider of her choosing attend an independent psychiatric evaluation. The Claimant further requested of the WCJ that her designated health care provider be permitted to video or audio tape record the examination, question the examiner, comment on the examination process and assist the Claimant during the examination by rephrasing questions and asking additional questions during the examination.

The WCJ denied all of these manners of participation, holding the Claimant’s representative may only observe, take notes, and request brief recesses during the evaluation to confer with the Claimant. The Board and the Court affirmed. The Court reasoned it had ruled in Wolfe v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board (Edgewater Steel Company), 636 A.2d 1293 (Pa. Cmwlth.), appeal denied, 537 Pa. 669, 644 A.2d 1205 (1994) that the Claimant is not able to be represented by her attorney at the examination. Participation of the type the Claimant was requesting was tantamount to an adversarial proceeding.

The Court stated the role of the Claimant’s designated health care provider is to obtain a firsthand view of the exam process as a foundation for later rebutting in testimony the validity of the exam results.