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New York legislators 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 an extreme hardship.
Assembly Bill 294, filed Wednesday, would permit claimants to request to be classified to permanent total disability or total industrial disability due to extreme hardships in cases in which the loss of wage-earning capacity is more than 50%, down from the current 75%.
Under the bill, an “extreme hardship” could be claimed in cases in which an injured worker would be unable to meet expenses for himself or any dependents; when additional medical, functional or vocational factors have further eroded wage earning capacity; or when the worker’s income falls below the federal poverty line.
A separate bill introduced Wednesday, Assembly Bill 337 proposes a wide array of changes to the state’s comp system, including revisions concerning the payment of attorneys fees.
Under the bill, claimants’ lawyers can submit a claim for legal services connected to obtaining authorization for necessary medical treatment in cases in which no compensation award is made, including for advice given to a represented injured worker.
Any approved attorneys fees would be paid by an employer or insurer, and such medical legal fees would serve as a credit against any subsequent attorneys fees in comp cases.
Both bills were referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.