As scheduled, the Workers’ Compensation Automation and Integration System (WCAIS) went live for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on September 9, 2013. Having been in on the ground floor of this massive undertaking, we watched this transition with great interest. While we are excited with the possibilities this new system will offer, the change in systems did not start without some issues.
For several days after the launch, the system was shut down. Since the previous system had been stopped, in anticipation of WCAIS starting, this caused the workers’ comp system in PA to grind to a halt. Fortunately, WCAIS does appear to now be functioning (in fact, today we received our first Notices of Hearing using the system). Whether the system is fully functional is unknown to us.
Problems do remain to be addressed. One Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) told us that there is no functioning scanner in that workers’ compensation hearing office. This means that no evidence received by a WCJ in that office can be entered into the system. A WCJ in another hearing office advised parties to use bench orders when pursuing a Compromise & Release (settlement), as that WCJ was not sure when the system would allow WCJs to issue decisions through WCAIS.
It is certainly expected that there would be some adjustment difficulties in moving to the new system, but with the efficiency offered by WCAIS, the future handling of workers’ compensation cases in Pennsylvania undoubtedly looks bright.