New York lawmakers are pushing numerous changes to the workers’ compensation system, including a measure that would expand which workers could be reclassified as totally disabled due to extreme hardship.
Assembly Bill 294, filed Wednesday, would allow claimants to request classification as permanent total disability or total industrial disability due to extreme hardship in cases where the loss of wage-earning ability is more than 50%, down from the current 75%.
Under the bill, “extreme hardship” could be claimed in cases where an injured worker would be unable to cover expenses for himself or a dependent; when additional medical, functional or occupational factors have further eroded wage earning capacity; or when the worker̵7;s income falls below the federal poverty line.
A separate bill introduced Wednesday, Assembly Bill 337 proposes a wide range of changes to the state’s comp system, including revisions to the payment of attorney fees.
Under the bill, plaintiffs’ attorneys may file a claim for legal services related to obtaining authorization for necessary medical treatment in cases where no compensation is awarded, including for counseling provided to a represented injured worker.
All approved attorneys’ fees would be paid by an employer or insurer, and such medical attorneys’ fees would serve as a credit against any subsequent attorneys’ fees in comp cases.
Both bills were referred to the assembly’s work committee.