On October 24, 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 111 of 2018 into law. This law revives the previously determined unconstitutional Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process for injured workers in Pennsylvania. The new law requires that impairment rating evaluations be performed under the 6th edition (second printing April 2009) AMA Guides to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The law also lowers the previous fifty percent (50%) threshold for the presumption of total disability to thirty-five percent (35%).The law is effective immediately and the Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (Bureau) has reactivated the IRE functionality in WCAIS (Workers Compensations Automation and Integration System) and has resumed the authorization and designation of IRE physicians, to allow for the performance of IREs pursuant to the requirements set forth in Act 111. To maintain consistency, it is anticipated that the process will track the preexisting procedural and regulatory framework, to the extent and in a manner consistent with the provisions of Act 111.
There still are a number of questions surrounding the impact of the new IRE process on existing cases where benefits were previously modified based upon a prior IRE and litigation on this issue is certain to continue.
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