When Does 2 + 2 = 2? The New Math of SB 899 for Temporary Disability

Liability for temporary disability (TD) was severely limited by SB 899. Prior to SB 899, TD was payable until an applicant was either declared permanent and stationary (P&S) or had returned to work if not P&S. It wasn't unusual for an applicant to be found temporarily disabled by a treating doctor or examining doctor for years.

SB 899 limited entitlement to TD to two years. The limitation as initially imposed was very severe. Any payment of  TD would start the two-year limit. So, an applicant who, say received one week of TD and then returned to work, could only receive any further TD within two years of the first payment. If the applicant became temporarily disabled after the end of two years from the first payment, he or she would be out of luck.

What About Applicants With Multiple Injuries?

But what happens with TD if an applicant suffered two injuries? What about a cumulative trauma injury and a specific injury to the same part or parts of the body? What about two injuries with different body parts? How is the TD limitation applied? Is an applicant automatically entitled to two years of TD just by filing separate cases?

Foster v. WCAB --- A Case of First Impression

In the recent case of Foster v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (2008) 161 Cal. App. 4th 1505, 73 Cal. Comp. Cases 466, the Court of Appeal, in a case of first impression, affirmed a WCAB decision and addressed how the TD limitation should be applied when an applicant suffers multiple injuries.

To read my analysis of the Foster case, see my expert commentary article on lexis.com. You can access my article at the beginning of the Foster case at http://www.lexis.com/xlink?showcidslinks=on&ORIGINATION_CODE=00142&searchtype=get&search=161%20Cal.%20App.%204th%201505