Colorado: "Disability" Need Not Always Involve Medical Incapacity

Colorado: "Disability" Need Not Always Involve Medical Incapacity

While the concept of “disability” within the worker’s compensation setting ordinarily requires a demonstration of both medical incapacity and loss of wage earnings, a claimant is not always required to prove both components to establish entitlement to disability benefits under Colorado’s Workers' Compensation Act, held a divided Colorado appellate court. Here, claimant, a furniture sales representative, suffered injuries to her left ankle and foot, as well as her back and shoulders. Her treatment included numerous medical appointments, physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic and dry needling appointments, but she was never given work restrictions nor medically limited in her ability to work. She alleged she had experienced a loss of earnings because, since her income was based entirely on commissions, she sometimes could not schedule appointments with or see customers at the furniture store. The Appeals Office concluded that claimant was not entitled to temporary disability benefits since claimant had not shown any “medical incapacity.” Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the appellate court majority said there should be no “uncompromising preoccupation with either the medical or the actual wage-loss aspect of disability” [Larson § 80.02].

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Montoya v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 2018 COA 19, 2018 Colo. App. LEXIS 151 (Feb. 8, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 80.02.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law