In 2004, the employee sustained a work-related low back injury. The employee was paid 10% permanent partial disability. In 2007, the employee began developing urinary problems including incontinence and dysfunctional bladder. A subsequent MRI found a lumbar lateral disc protrusion. The employee’s treating doctor opined that the employee’s urinary difficulties could be related to the employee’s back injury.
In 2011, the employee filed a Claim Petition for permanent partial disability benefits related to the urinary condition. The compensation judge found the employee was not entitled to any additional permanent partial disability because the employee’s condition did not conform to any condition set forth in the permanency schedules.
The employee continued to treat for his low back condition and urinary dysfunction. The first of the employee’s treating doctors opined the employee was entitled to 15% permanent partial disability under the permanency schedule based upon the opinion that the employee’s herniated disc condition fulfilled certain requirements of the permanency schedule. At a hearing held in July 2013, the compensation judge disagreed with that opinion.
The second of the employee’s treating doctors rated the employee at 20% permanent partial disability utilizing the permanency schedule but also gave a Weber rating for the bladder disorder. At the July 2013 hearing, the compensation judge also disagreed with the opinion of the doctor and found that the employee could not be attributed additional permanency under the permanency schedules.
The IME doctor assigned the employee a 5% permanent partial disability rating under the permanency schedule. Once again, at the July 2013 hearing, the compensation judge disagreed with the opinion of the IME doctor and found that the employee was not entitled to additional permanent partial disability under the permanency schedule.
The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the compensation judge. The Court found that substantial evidence supports the compensation judge’s finding that the employee’s condition does not meet the requirements of the permanency schedule.
Most importantly, is the Court of Appeals clarification of the case Weber v. City of Inver Grove Heights and in M.S. §176.105, Subd. 1(c). That section provides possible permanent partial disability for an employee if their injury is supported by objective medical evidence but is not rated by the permanency schedule. Here, the employee contended that since he has objective medical evidence of the effects of the injury, then he is deserving of a permanency rating. In this case, the compensation judge determined the employee’s condition was rated by the permanency schedule, zero percent because his condition did not conform to the lowest ratable section of the permanency schedule. Therefore the employee could not be assigned an alternative permanency rating under Weber and the statute.