Limitations on the Revisory Powers of the Workers Compensation Commission

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While unreported, the Court of Special Appeals has interpreted some boundaries to revisory powers in the case of Montgomery County, Maryland v. Peter Gang, No. 00768 Sept. Term 2017, 2018 WL 3801772 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Aug. 9, 2018).

The background of the case establishes that the claimant, Peter Gang was a public safety worker for Montgomery County at the time of his September 17, 2011 work injury. Due to an oversight, he received a permanent partial disability award on May 2, 2012, which paid him at the first-tier rate, instead of the enhanced public safety rate. No efforts were made to correct this error until the claimant’s attorney filed a Request for Document Correction on March 22, 2016.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission issued an amended award dated March 25, 2016 modifying the original compensation rate, which led to additional payments being due from the employer/insurer. Upon receipt of the amended award, the employer/insurer noted their objection and ultimately requested the amended award be stricken.

The parties appeared for a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission wherein the amended award was affirmed. On appeal, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County also upheld the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision to amend the claimant’s rate of payment for the original May 2, 2012 permanency award.

The claimant argued to the Court of Special Appeals that under Labor and Employment Section 9-736, the Workers’ Compensation Commission has broad revisory power to readjust the rate of compensation or modify awards. In examining LE Section 9-736, the Court of Special Appeals concluded that the Workers’ Compensation Commission only had the authority to readjust the future rate of compensation due to aggravation, diminution, or termination of disability. In this case, the Workers’ Compensation Commission had retroactively modified a rate of compensation and ordered additional benefits due on a past award. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that the time period to request a modification or correction in the original May 2, 2012 Award had long passed and by awarding additional benefits four years later, it improperly extended the statute of limitations for the claimant to reopen his claim. The decision of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County was reversed and the claim was remanded with direction to strike the amended award.

It is very important to pay close attention to reviewing awards for accuracy. The Workers’ Compensation Commission may not always retain the authority to correct errors if you do not address them timely. In this case, the correct compensation rate was not in dispute, yet the employer/insurer prevailed due to the claimant’s attorney’s lack of diligence in 2012.

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