There are differences between occupational disease and industrial injury claims. However, the benefits available to injured workers under each of the two types of claims are the same. In addition, the rules for administering the claims are very similar, with a few exceptions.
What is an occupational disease claim?
An occupational disease is a condition or disease that is caused or aggravated, at least in part, by distinctive conditions of a worker’s employment. The development of occupational disease conditions often come on over time. Therefore, it can be difficult to pinpoint the date that would be associated with the claim with no singular injury date. Therefore, the date associated with the origin of an occupational disease claim is called the “date of manifestation”.
For all claims filed after July 1, 1988, the date of manifestation follows the following rule: It is the date the disease first required medical treatment or the date the disease first became totally or partially disabling; whichever occurred first. In many cases, the date of manifestation ends up being the date the worker first saw a doctor for the condition. However, sometimes this determination is not straightforward. In that case, it requires careful review of historical medical records to determine an accurate date of manifestation.
Date of Manifestation in Occupational Disease Claims
Establishing an accurate date of manifestation for occupational disease claims is important. This date will be used to calculate certain factors for the injured worker’s benefits, such as monthly time loss rate and PPD schedule. The value of a PPD award depends on the award schedule in place as of the date of manifestation. Similarly, wages are set based upon what the injured worker was making as of the date of manifestation. However, because of the unique nature of occupational disease claims, sometimes an injured worker was not working as of the date of manifestation.
If the worker was not employed on the date of manifestation, for causes other than voluntary retirement, then the compensation rate is based upon the last monthly wage the injured worker earned. The date of manifestation also impacts the decision regarding the “chargeable employers” for allowed occupational disease claim. As a result, employers’ representatives are often equally concerned about establishing an accurate date of manifestation.
As a practical matter, injured workers should always review claim decisions carefully. Even something that may seem insignificant like a date of manifestation may have a significant impact on claim outcome. Any time a decision seems inaccurate, an injured worker should consult with an experienced attorney and dispute incorrect decisions.