House Bill 75 and Workers’ Compensation Changes
House Bill 75 has progressed through each step of the legislative process, and was signed by Governor Mike DeWine on June 29, 2021. Prior to arriving on Governor DeWine’s desk, the bill received near unanimous, bi-partisan support in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly. HB 75 directly affects workers’ compensation claims and benefits, as well as makes modifications to the journalist exception. These changes made by HB 75 become effective September 28, 2021, and are highlighted below.
Occupational Disease Claims
Historically, the statute of limitations to file a claim for an occupational disease was two years from the date disability due to the disease began, or death. Under HB 75, the applicable statute of limitations for an employee who is disabled from an occupational disease, or a dependent of an employee who dies from an occupational disease, is reduced to one year after the disability due to the disease began or death. The one year statute of limitations to file a claim for occupational disease is now consistent with the one year statute of limitations to file a claim for an injury.
Application for Permanent Partial Disability Compensation
Where an employer knows that an employee has a compensable claim due to a workplace injury or occupational disease, the employer may choose to pay the employee continued wages in place of compensation under temporary total disability (TTD). An employee receiving TTD payments must wait 26 weeks from the last payment to apply for permanent partial disability compensation (PPD). In the interest of uniformity among Ohio’s workers’ compensation statutes, HB 75 states that an employee receiving wage continuation rather than TTD is prohibited from filing for PPD until 26 weeks after their last payment of wage continuation was received. The two frequently used methods to compensate injured workers’ for a loss of wages due to a claim (TTD and wage continuation) are now procedurally the same in this regard under HB 75. Now in both situations, employees receiving TTD or wage continuation cannot file an application for PPD compensation until 26 weeks from when the last payment occurred.
Permanent Total Disability
Another change comes when an employee has previously been denied for permanent total disability (PTD) compensation by the Ohio Industrial Commission. The employee now will be required to present evidence of new and changed circumstances before the Commission can consider a subsequent application based on the same injury or occupational disease. This change should prevent a refiling of a PTD application based simply on the passage of time.
Journalist Exception and Disclosure of Information
Under continuing law, disclosure of claimant information generally is prohibited. However, HB 75 expands the current journalist exception in Ohio Revised Code 4123.88(D), and requires the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) to disclose certain personal information of claimants if a journalist makes a written request. In that written request, a journalist is required to attest that the information received from the BWC is not a public record and will not be shared for any purpose outside of journalism. Additionally, a civil cause of action is created against any person where claimant information that is not a public record is recklessly disclosed or received after being obtained by a journalist.
Should you have any questions regarding how the changes wrought by HB 75 may affect you, please contact Ms. Ebel or Mr. Shaw.
Lauren A. Schaffer, a law clerk with Eastman & Smith and a third year law student at the University of Toledo School of Law, contributed to this article. Ms. Schaffer has a degree in inclusive early childhood education from Bowling Green State University.
Disclaimer: The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.