Category Archives: News

Virtual Hearings Coming To New York!

The New York Workers’ Compensation Virtual Hearings pilot program will be rolled out starting next week for hearings at the Menands (Albany) hearing point.

Virtual Hearings will allow injured workers, attorneys/representatives, witnesses and other participants to attend hearings online. Participants will no longer have to travel to a hearing site to attend their hearing. For the time being, parties will have the option to attend any hearing eligible for a virtual hearing either in person, as they normally would, or via the Board’s video conference software program.

According to the Board website:

Virtual Hearings will be rolled out gradually to districts throughout New York State after the successful completion of the Board’s Virtual Hearing pilot. The pilot moves into the next stage with Virtual Hearings available in the Albany District Office, located in Menands, beginning November 13, 2017.

If you are eligible to attend your hearing virtually, you will see a notification of ““Virtual Hearing Available” adobe pdf at the bottom of your hearing notice, along with detailed instructions.

There is no set time frame for when all Workers’ Compensation hearings in the state will be eligible for a virtual hearing but it is clear this is coming state-wide in the near future.

Anyone that has set foot in a hearing point recently has seen updated technology in many of the hearing points and presumably this is the Board preparing for the roll out across the state.

The Board has been hosting a series of webinar training sessions for attorneys and representatives to provide instructions on how to attend hearings virtually, as well as how to use the new check-in procedure when appearing in person. During a “Question & Answers” segment of one of the webinars it was disclosed that claimants will be allowed to attend virtual hearings using audio only but attorneys and representatives will be required to appear via video. Additionally, it appears the plan is eventually for all hearings aside from discrimination matters to be eligible for the virtual hearing process.

It is anticipated there will be many “growing pains” as the Board implements this new process. Presumably, regulations and new Board rules will follow.

If you wish to have monthly NY workers’ compensation updates sent to your inbox, feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter here

New York Workers’ Compensation Board Announces New Hearing Process for Opioid Weaning Issues

Recognizing that opioid addiction is a major public health crisis, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board today announced a new hearing process to address opioid weaning issues. In 2014, the Board implemented the “Non-Acute Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines” (“MTG”) to address opioid usage in workers’ compensation claims.

Declan Gourley
Declan Gourley, Esq.

As the “Non-Acute Pain Medical Treatment Guildeines” makes clear, long-term opioid use is only recommended in limited circumstances, and must involve constant clinical monitoring and re-evaluation. The guidelines also includes best practices for safely weaning injured workers from opioids and other narcotics.

Requesting a Hearing

Under the new process, the insurance carrier or self-insured employer can now request a hearing to address whether the claimant should be weaned from opioids. In order to request the hearing, the Board requires an IME report or Records Review, “which indicates weaning goals and recommended weaning program or resource” be submitted with the RFA-2.
Continue reading New York Workers’ Compensation Board Announces New Hearing Process for Opioid Weaning Issues

New Legislation Extends Deadline for New Workers’ Compensation Claims Related to 9/11

New legislation extends the period for workers and volunteers seeking lost wage and medical benefits as a result of their involvement in the September 11th rescue, recovery and clean-up operations. Presumably, a New York Workers’ Compensation Board Bulletin will be issued in the near future outlining the details.

In November 2013, the Board issued a Bulletin detailing the legislation which extended the deadline to September 11, 2014. Prior to the extension to September 11, 2014 any claims for which the associated Form WTC-12 was received after September 13, 2010 were time-barred.

According to the official announcement:

The bill (S5745-C/A7958-C) extends the deadline for individuals to register under the WTC Disability Law until September 11, 2018. The extension will allow additional individuals to receive workers’ compensation, disability, and accidental death benefits as a result of their participation in the WTC rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations.

The World Trade Center Registry, which preserves workers’ compensation rights for those who performed rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations after the World Trade Center attacks will remain open until September 11, 2018. Previously, any claims for which the associated Form WTC-12 was received after September 11, 2014 were time-barred. Those workers were not entitled to benefits. These claims will now be reopened and considered timely.

If you have a specific New York workers’ compensation question, feel free to e-mail Declan Gourley directly. If you wish to have monthly NY workers’ compensation updates sent to your inbox, feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter here

New Report on the New York Workers’ Compensation System

Recently, the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) published its annual report which analyzes various developments in the operation of the New York Workers’ Compensation system.

The WCRI has published seven (7) prior reports with the purpose of providing a longitudinal study of the effect of the sweeping New York Workers’ Compensation reforms enacted in 2007. These reforms set limits on the number of weeks of permanent partial disability payments allowed, raised statutory benefit amounts, established defined medical treatment guidelines, created networks for diagnostic services, and introduced administrative changes to increase the velocity that cases are resolved, amongst others. According to the WCRI, the various changes became effective at different times and, as such, it may take a few more years for the full impact of the reforms to be viewed in proper context. Continue reading New Report on the New York Workers’ Compensation System

PS3 Image Re-sizer

Here’s an application I wrote called “Greg’s PS3 Photo Re-Sizer.” I wrote it to solve a problem I had: re-sizing a huge number (14,000+) of high resolution photos to standard 1080p (1920×1440) definition to view them on my HD TV (through my PS3). Download it here for free. System requirements: OS X 10.6 or higher.