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Workers' Compensation

California: Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Voucher: Two Recent Panel Decisions

The WCAB has recently issued two decisions involving SJDB vouchers: one involving discovery where entitlement to the voucher was not settled, and the other relating to the treating physician’s return to work report that provided the necessary information to show entitlement to the voucher.

Here are our headnotes for these decisions.

Marisa Singerman v. Nike, Inc., 2021 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 81

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits—Discovery—WCAB rescinded WCJ’s decision that applicant who suffered industrial spine injury on 3/4/2018 was not entitled to supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB) voucher, and returned matter to trial level for further development of record regarding applicant’s entitlement to voucher, when WCAB noted that while WCJ correctly found that treating physician’s 9/30/2019 permanent disability report was deficient, this report was only evidence offered at trial suggesting applicant was permanently partially disabled, yet WCJ declined to develop record because applicant had settled her claim prior to completion of discovery and had procured medical report post-settlement addressing permanent disability despite settlement of this issue, but WCAB determined that prohibiting applicant from conducting further discovery on issue of permanent disability effectively prohibited her from conducting necessary discovery to prove entitlement to SJDB voucher, which was not settled, and further found that forcing employee to wait until permanent and stationary medical report is issued before employee can settle workers’ compensation claim, or else forgo right to SJDB voucher, impairs employee’s right to settle claim in violation of Labor Code § 5000, and that prohibiting employee from engaging in discovery post-settlement to prove entitlement to SJDB voucher effectively abrogates employee’s right to this benefit.  

Zenaida Garcia v. Riverside Magnolia Corp., 2021 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 69

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits—Applicant’s Entitlement to Voucher—Treating Physician’s Return-to-Work Report—WCAB, rescinding WCJ’s decision, held that applicant who claimed industrial injury to her left upper extremity while employed as housekeeper on 10/22/2017, met burden of establishing entitlement to supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB) voucher under Labor Code § 4658.7 based on treating physician’s Return-to-Work & Voucher Report (DWC-AD 10133.36) which stated that applicant’s condition was permanent and stationary, that injury caused permanent partial disability, and that applicant had work restrictions, and WCAB found that applicant was not required to obtain separate permanent and stationary report to prove entitlement to voucher, when WCAB found that treating physician’s Return-to-Work & Voucher Report met requirements of 8 Cal. Code Reg. § 9785(i) and provided parties all necessary information to determine applicant’s entitlement to SJDB voucher, that since applicant settled her claim and was not seeking temporary disability indemnity, permanent disability indemnity, or medical treatment, neither party would benefit from obtaining permanent and stationary report and report would serve no purpose, and that under circumstances of this matter, to determine that permanent and stationary report was “mandatory” would deny applicant voucher to which she would otherwise be entitled, would place form over substance, and would be inconsistent with Legislature’s intent in enacting Labor Code § 4658.7, which was to make SJDB (in form of voucher) more easily accessible to injured workers.

Reminder: Panel decisions are not binding precedent.

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