The Michigan state legislature enacted sweeping changes to the state’s workers’ comp law, effective on December 19, 2011. Supporters of the new legislation hope it will reduce the possibility of fraud and help employers control the costs that come along with litigation.
Having an agency-based advocate who knows the law inside and out can expedite the claims process and help ensure fair results for both the employer and the employee.
The Changes to Michigan Workers’ Comp Law
The biggest changes in the Michigan work comp statute include:
- Workers’ comp benefit recipients are now obligated to work if they can physically perform another job. If they don’t put forth a good-faith effort to look for work or don’t accept work offered, their benefits will be reduced by the wages that they could have earned.
- The employer’s ability to manage an employee’s post injury care was extended to 28 days, an increase from the previous 10 days allowed.
- Clarification on what constitutes a pre-existing condition and what is an injury. An injury must create a “medically distinguishable” change in condition and “aggravate pathology” from any preexisting condition to be compensable.
- A provision on mental disability requires that “an employee’s perception of actual events to be grounded in reality” to receive compensation.
- A provision that an employer may stop payment of work comp benefits if an employee is terminated for fault.
- As a condition of the aging process, degenerative arthritis is now subject to a higher burden of proof (significant manner standard) for compensability.
- The legislation eliminates the 100-Week Rule, meaning the employer is no longer obligated to pay wage benefits after an employee performing light duty for less than 100 weeks is terminated for “whatever reason.” If an employee is terminated from reasonable employment (light duty) due to the employee’s fault, he is considered to have voluntarily removed himself from the workforce and is not entitled to wage loss benefits.
- If an injured worker is eligible for a pension, but has elected to NOT take it at the time of injury, the new law will allow for the reduction of work comp benefits based on the amount the injured worker could have been collecting had they chosen to retire.
- For Independent Contractors, after January 1, 2013, the 20-factor test utilized by the IRS will be utilized to determine compensability.
- The law also guarantees that the state of Michigan will pay work comp claims against certain self-insured authorities if an authority were to dissolve.
Questions on the Changes to Michigan Work Comp?
The above list of changes just scratches the surface of complexity in the new statue. Got specific questions about a provision of the new law? Comment below and we’ll try to help.