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Comp Connection Vol. 16 No. 4

Comp Connection Vol. 16 No. 4.pdf

Court Of Appeals Finds Abandonment from Job Market Bars TTD Compensation

In State ex rel. Andrasi v. Indus Comm., 2016-Ohio-4971, the 10th District Court of Appeals found the claimant’s abandonment of the workforce barred his receipt of temporary total disability compensation.

The claimant had an allowed claim for which he had received various forms of compensation since  1991.  In fact, the claimant had received PTD compensation at one point in the claim, which compensation was terminated when the Commission later determined the claimant was capable of sustained remunerative employment.  In 2012, the claimant requested TTD compensation, but this request was denied because he testified he had received PERS disability since 1991 and that he had not worked since 1985.  An SHO found the claimant essentially abandoned the labor market.  Later in 2014, the claimant again filed for TTD compensation and the Commission denied the request relying on its previous finding that the claimant had abandoned the workforce.

The claimant filed a mandamus action in the 10th District Court of Appeals.  The court’s magistrate denied the writ on the ground there was some evidence to support the Commission’s order.  The court of appeals agreed with the magistrate.  Because there was no evidence the claimant had returned to the workforce after the 2012 TTD hearing, the Commission did not abuse its discretion in denying TTD.

Court of Appeals Finds Widow to be Partial Dependent

R.C. 4123.59 governs the payment of death benefits.  R.C. 4123.59(B) provides death benefits for persons who are wholly dependent upon the decedent at the time of death.  R.C. 4123.59(C) provided death benefits to partially dependent persons at the time of death.  R.C. 4123.23(D) creates a presumption that a surviving spouse is wholly dependent on the decedent if he/she was living with the decedent at that time of death.

In State ex rel. Maglis v. Indus. Comm., 2016-Ohio-4644, the 10th District Court of Appeals examined whether the Commission abused its discretion in finding a surviving spouse was partially dependent upon her deceased husband at the time of his death. The widow-claimant and the decedent married in Greece in 1973.  Shortly thereafter, the decedent came to the United States on a work visa and eventually became a resident alien.  The widow remained a resident of Greece.  From time to time over the years, the decedent would work in the U.S.  In 2012, the decedent died while working in the U.S. and living in Ohio.  At the time of death, the widow lived in Greece.

Because the widow was not living with the decedent at the time of death, her dependency was not presumed and became a question of fact.  The widow submitted an affidavit to the Commission, stating she was wholly dependent on the decedent, and a Social Security Administration decision regarding her level of dependency.  The widow also submitted evidence the decedent wired her money from time to time.  However, because there was no corroborating evidence the decedent consistently wired money to the widow, the Commission found the widow was only a partial dependent.

The widow filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, alleging the Commission abused its discretion.  The Court of Appeals denied the writ.  Because dependency was a factual question under these circumstances and the Commission is the sole fact finder, the Commission was well within its purview to determine the widow was a partial dependent.

 


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Industrial Commission to Update Website

In June, 2016, at the Ohio Self-Insurers Association Conference, the Industrial Commission announced it is piloting an upgrade to its website to allow electronic submission of evidence.  Currently, parties may file documents with the Commission in person or by fax.  However, the fax technology has become extremely cumbersome due to the overwhelming utilization of fax filings.  Once the Commission completes its pilot program, the Commission will launch a new version of its website, which will allow the submission of all types of documents in electronic formats, such as Word, PDF, TIFF, and JPEG files.  Initially, the system will not be able to accommodate movie files, such as MPEG files because of challenges uploading such data heavy files, as well as the Commission’s present storage capacity limitations.  Nevertheless, the Commission anticipates the inability to upload large capacity movie files will be temporary.

Under the new website, parties will upload documents directly to the claim files via a secure portal.  The submitting party will bear responsibility for naming the documents, which historically has been the responsibility of the Commission’s claims examiners.  Although an electronic submission will ensure a document is filed with the Commission, parties will remain responsible for adding such electronic submissions to the hearing folders for review at hearings.

The Commission did not discuss whether the Bureau is making similar upgrades to is website, Dolphin.  While Dolphin and ICON are linked, the websites are maintained separately by the two agencies.

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