This is the next post in a series of articles discussing permanent disability claims in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article reviewed the ongoing benefits and eligibility requirements for claimants who have been awarded permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. If your employer challenges your eligibility after an award has been granted in your case, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to assist with refuting the employer’s claim. Doing so can help ensure that you continue to receive the benefits to which you are entitled. In this article, I will discuss what claimants should do when their permanent disability claim has been denied. If you need assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, contact my office to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
It is not uncommon for an employer to challenge an employee’s claim that they are permanently disabled. Disputes over PTD or PPD benefits can be based on multiple arguments. Commonly in disability cases, one’s level of ability to work in the future may be disputed. For instance, an employer may petition the Commission for the termination of PTD benefits if they believe the employee has regained the ability to work, but is voluntarily remaining unemployed. Other common arguments include claims that the injury occurred outside of work, the worker is lying about the injury, incorrect estimates of earning potential, or that the medical treatments being requested are unnecessary. When a claim has been denied, an injured party may not know how to proceed. Fortunately, when the denial is made in error or on unfounded evidence, the claimant may appeal the denial of their claim.
The appeal will be heard by a panel of three commissioners. The commissioners will review the initial decision issued by the arbitrator, the transcript of the proceeding, and any evidence presented by the parties during the hearing. During the appeal, neither party may submit new evidence, however, each may submit a written brief outlining their arguments. The Commission may schedule an oral argument, at which the attorneys will present their positions to the panel. The panel will either affirm or overturn the arbitrator’s decision. While the Commission’s decision will be final in the case of state employees, the IWCC rulings for non-state employees may be further appealed to the circuit court in the county where the injury occurred. This decision may also be appealed again to the appellate court and, in very rare cases, to the Illinois Supreme Court. Most appeals are resolved much earlier in the process at the IWCC level or through settlement agreements reached by the parties.
The appeals process can be complicated and it is strongly suggested that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you. If your permanent disability claim has been denied, contact our Peoria office today to schedule an appointment. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.