OWCP Announces Staff Changes

On November 16th, OWCP announced that effective November 27, 2016, there will be a change in leadership in the Divisions of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation and Federal Employees’ Compensation. On that day, the current DFEC Director, Doug Fitzgerald, will assume the role of Longshore Director. Tony Rios, the current Longshore Director, will become the DFEC Director.

It was also announced that Rholanda Basnight is serving as the Acting District Director in the Second District Office (New York).

Loyola Holds Day With the DOL Program

Loyola Law School, in cooperation with the United States Department of Labor, will hold its Day With the DOL program on Friday, October 14, 2016 at the Pan-American Life Center, 601 Poydras Street, New Orleans.

Topics include:

Handling Claims Before OWCP
• Administration of Claims and How to Navigate Your Way
• Medical Oversight Within OWCP’s Authority
• Resolution of Disputes

Pain Management and the Opioid Crisis
• What is Medically Necessary and Reasonable
• Guidelines for Pain Management
• Impact on Maximum Medical Improvement and Return to Work

Question and Answer Session with OWCP and OALJ

Speakers include Administrative Law Judge Larry W. Price, District Director David A. Duhon, Dr. Patrick H. Waring, Arthur J. Brewster and Alan G. Brackett. For information and registration, go to:

http://www.cvent.com/events/a-day-with-the-department-of-labor-new-orleans/event-summary-101f7527f4ff408a8df37d07bbc106fe.aspx.

Ninth Circuit Denies Concurrent Compensation to DBA Claimant

In this claim for benefits brought under the Defense Base Act as an extension of the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Claimant alleged that he sustained both a hearing loss injury and a lower back injury caused by a suicide bomber attack while deployed in Iraq. Claimant’s back injury left him permanently and totally disabled. Claimant was adjudicated permanently and totally disabled following a first formal hearing, then a modification hearing brought under Section 22 of the LHWCA.

 

During the Section 22, modification hearing, Claimant also presented an audiogram that demonstrated binaural hearing loss of 9.7%. However, the presiding administrative law judge held that concurrent payments for hearing loss were unavailable because Claimant was already receiving PTD benefits. The Benefits Review Board affirmed this finding.

 

Claimant appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that he should be awarded concurrent benefits pursuant to Stevedoring Servs. of Am. v. Price, 382 F.3d 878 (9th Cir. 2004). In Price, the Ninth Circuit awarded concurrent benefits to a Claimant who sustained a loss of earning capacity from one accident, and then suffered total disability from a second accident. The Ninth Circuit held in Price that, under those circumstances—where later total disability was based on a wage that had already been decreased because of a prior partial disability—concurrent benefits were merited. Here, Claimant’s two injuries occurred from one accident. The court held that Price was distinguishable, and affirmed its long-standing principle that concurrent benefits were not merited where Claimant sustained both a “scheduled injury” and a permanent and total disability.

 

Fenske v. Service Employees Int’l

New LHWCA Compensation Rates Announced

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined the national average weekly wage to be $718.24, a 2.17% increase over the current NAWW of $703.00. Therefore, effective October 1, 2016, the new minimum compensation rate under the LHWCA will be $359.12, up from the current $351.50, and the maximum compensation rate will be $1,436.48, up from the current $1,406.00.