Anyone who follows our blog, or the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system, knows that one of the fastest changing areas these days is that of Impairment Rating Evaluations (IREs). To keep pace with these changes, and continue our goal of educating the injured worker throughout PA, we have updated the IRE section of our website. The new page can be accessed here.
For those unfamiliar with the IRE process, this was something the insurance industry lobbied hard for when major changes were made to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) in 1996. As seen with other States in the Country, an IRE process can change the status of an injured worker from “total” disability to “partial” disability. While this may not (and in PA does not) change the amount of the weekly benefit received by an injured worker, it does start the clock ticking on the number of weeks of partial disability benefits an injured worker can receive (in Pennsylvania, an injured worker can only receive a maximum of 500 weeks of partial disability benefits; there is no limit to the number of weeks of total disability benefits that can be received).
In 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania declared the IRE process, as set forth in the Act, unconstitutional. This set the powerful insurance lobby into full panic mode (though, frankly, the actual financial impact of the loss of the IRE process on the insurance industry is in dispute). As a result, the PA legislature capitulated to the lobby and passed Act 111, reinstating the IRE process. To the surprise of very few, the elected representatives chose to side with the insurance industry over the injured worker.