Farrell v. St. Paul Café, et. al. WC19-6249 (June 4, 2019)
The employee sustained an admitted work injury in 2004 and was declared permanently and totally disabled via an Award on Stipulation for Settlement in 2016. Previously in 2013, a judge had signed an Award on Stipulation in 2013 which closed vocational rehabilitation and retraining. Subsequent to that 2013 Stipulation, the employer and insurer voluntarily began providing disability case management services. The employer and insurer eventually became dissatisfied with those services and sought to terminate via a rehabilitation request.
The compensation judge found that there was no workers’ compensation statute or rule governing changes to voluntarily provided services and granted the request to change case managers. The employee appealed.
The court discussed that disability case managers, as a non-statutory benefit, are outside the jurisdiction of workers’ compensation courts and thus employers and insurers may make changes to these services without filing either a medical or rehabilitation request or otherwise seeking approval from a workers’ compensation judge.
The employee urged the court to ‘provide guidance’ and/or ‘create policy’ regarding changes to disability case management services, however the court declined noting that only the legislature has the power to modify the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The takeaway here is that employers and insurers need not seek approval for a change in disability case managers where they are not governed by the Workers’ Compensation Act.