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AB-553 Workers’ compensation: return-to-work program.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/24/2017 09:00 PM
AB553:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 24, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 30, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 553


Introduced by Assembly Member Daly

February 14, 2017


An act to amend Section 139.48 of the Labor Code, relating to workers’ compensation.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 553, as amended, Daly. Workers’ compensation: return-to-work program.
Existing law establishes a workers’ compensation system, administered by the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, to compensate an employee for injuries sustained in the course of his or her employment. Under the workers’ compensation system, existing law establishes a return-to-work program for the purpose of making supplemental payments to workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings loss. Existing law funds this program with $120,000,000 per year derived from the Workers’ Compensation Administration Revolving Fund. Existing law requires the director to determine eligibility for payments and the amount of payments, as specified.
This bill would require the director to have the program distribute the $120,000,000 annually to eligible workers, as specified, and would require, commencing with the end of the 2017 calendar year, that any remaining program funds available after the above-described supplemental payments are made be distributed pro rata to those eligible workers, subject to a $25,000 limit per calendar year. The bill would also prohibit attorney’s fees from being allowed out of any of the payments made to workers from, and would prohibit a person person, including an attorney, from collecting a fee or commission for providing assistance to a worker to apply for benefits provided by, by the program.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 139.48 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

139.48.
 (a) There is in the department a return-to-work program administered by the director, funded by one hundred twenty million dollars ($120,000,000) annually derived from non-General Funds of the Workers’ Compensation Administration Revolving Fund, for the purpose of making supplemental payments to workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings loss. Moneys shall remain available for use by the return-to-work program without respect to the fiscal year.
(b) Eligibility for payments and the amount of payments shall be determined by regulations adopted by the director, based on findings from studies conducted by the director in consultation with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation. Determinations of the director shall be subject to review at the trial level of the appeals board upon the same grounds as prescribed for petitions for reconsideration.
(c) (1) The director shall have the program distribute the one hundred twenty million dollars ($120,000,000) annually to eligible workers, unless distributing the maximum payments described in paragraph (2) results in a lesser amount.
(2) (A) Commencing with the end of the 2017 calendar year, any remaining program funds available after payments in the amounts authorized by subdivision (b) have been made shall be distributed pro rata to those workers who received payment from the program during that calendar year. However, in no event shall the total payment to any one worker pursuant to this section exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for a calendar year.
(B) Commencing April 1, 2018, the director shall make payments pursuant to subparagraph (A) on or before April 1 for the prior calendar year.

(d)(1)Attorney’s fees shall not be allowed out of any of the payments made to workers from the program.

(2)

(d) A person person, including an attorney, may not collect a fee or commission for providing assistance to a worker to apply for benefits provided by this section.
(e) This section shall apply only to injuries sustained on or after January 1, 2013.