Plain Language Summary of Wisconsin Act 172 - 2005
AMENDMENTS TO THE WORKER'S COMPENSATION ACT
PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY 2005
WISCONSIN ACT 172
EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2006
- Employee Wellness. Current law provides
that an employee who is injured while voluntarily participating in a program
designed to improve the employee's physical well being is not entitled to
worker's compensation benefits. This amendment also excludes from coverage
injuries sustained while an employee is engaged in a voluntary and
uncompensated event or activity designed to improve the employee's physical
well being. s.102.03(1)(c)3
- Temporary Help Agency. This is a
technical amendment by the drafter to modernize language in this subsection.
- Permanent Partial Disability. The
maximum benefit rates for permanent partial disability are increased for
injuries occurring on or after the effective date in 2006 to $252 and to
$262 for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2007. s.
- Temporary Total Disability, Permanent Total
Disability & Death Benefits. The maximum benefit rate for
temporary total disability, permanent total disability and death benefits
will be 110 percent of the state's average weekly earnings as determined
under s. 108.05, Wis. Stats. This amendment makes permanent the use of 110
percent of the state's average weekly earnings to establish these benefit
- Final Practitioner's Report. Under
this amendment a treating practitioner may charge a reasonable fee for
completing a final report, but cannot require pre-payment of the fee, and an
insurer or self-insured employer can dispute the reasonableness of a fee
charge for completion of a final report through the reasonableness of fee
dispute resolution process. s.102.13(2)(c).
- WC Treatment Guidelines. The
Department is authorized to promulgate rules to establish treatment
guidelines to be applied in resolving necessity of treatment disputes.
ss.102.16(1m)(b),102.16(2m)(c) and. 102.16(2m)(g).
- Certified Reports from Practitioners & Experts.
This amendment clarifies that medical and vocational evidence in the form of
certified reports admitted at hearings may be relied on by the Department in
issuing orders without the necessity of the practitioner or expert appearing
at the hearing. s.102.17(1)(d) 4.
- Certified Reports from Industrial Safety
Specialists. This amendment clarifies that certified reports from
industrial safety specialists admitted at hearings may be relied upon by the
Department in issuing orders without the necessity of the experts appearing
at the hearings. s.102.17(1)(h).
- Elimination of the Statute of Limitations for
Specified Traumatic Injuries. There will no longer be a statute
of limitations for injuries resulting in the loss or total impairment of a
hand or any part of the rest of the arm proximal to the hand, or of a foot,
or any part of the rest of the leg proximal to the foot, any loss of vision,
any permanent brain injury or any injury causing the need for a total or
partial knee or hip replacement, and the insurer or self-insured employer is
responsible for payment. The amendment also adds the need for an artificial
spinal disc as a traumatic injury covered under this subsection.
- Necessity of Treatment. This amendment
clarifies that the Department shall apply the treatment guidelines to be
promulgated by rule in deciding necessity of treatment disputes in orders
following hearings. s.102.18(1)(bg) 2.
- Bad Faith. The maximum penalty for bad
faith is increased from $15,000 to $30,000 and if a bad faith penalty is
imposed increased compensation under s. 102.22(1) or other interest cannot
also be awarded for that event or occurrence. s. 102.18(1)(bp).
- Payment of Orders on Appeal. This
amendment clarifies that a party ordered by the Department, LIRC or a court
to pay compensation must pay that compensation while the case is on appeal
when the only issue on appeal is liability between the employer and one or
more insurance companies. s.102.23(5).
- Self-insured Employers Liability Fund.
The Self-Insured Employers Liability Fund is made nonlapsible and the money
in the fund may only be used for statutory purposes and not other state
- Third Party Actions. This is a
technical amendment by the drafter to modernize language. s.102.29(1).
- Professional Employer Organizations.
Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) are required to provide the
Department notice within ten (10) days after entering into an agreement with
a client and 30 days notice before the termination date of the client
- Fees for Wrap-up Insurance. This
amendment requires that the money received by the Department for
administering the insurance wrap-up projects be deposited into the worker's
compensation operations fund. s.102.31(7).
- Prompt Payment of Permanent Partial Disability.
Under this amendment an employee who is still in the healing period and has
returned to work is eligible to receive payments for PPD that are based on
minimum ratings established by Department rule. s.102.32 (6)(b).
- Advancements. This amendment provides
that an employee or dependent can receive no more than three (3)
advancements per calendar year. s.102.32 (6m).
- Public Inspection & Copying of Department
Records. The restrictions on access to confidential records
provided to the Department are extended to LIRC. The Department will be
permitted to release confidential information to government agencies,
educational institutions and non-profit research organizations with the
assurance that information will not be re-released without authorization
from the Department. s.102.33(2).
- Surcharges & Interest. With this
amendment forfeitures will be changed to surcharges and payments will be
redirected from the School Fund to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit
Fund. Interest will be charged at a rate of 1 per cent per month on any
unpaid surcharges that remain unpaid after 90 days and the interest will
also deposited in the WISBF. s.102.35(1).
- Travel Expense (Mileage). This
amendment codifies the Department's policy that injured employees receive
mileage reimbursement for travel to obtain treatment at the same rate that
state employees receive for mileage. s.102.42(2)(b).
- Pharmacy Fee Schedule. A pharmacy fee
schedule is established that limits charges to the average wholesale price,
plus a $3.00 dispensing fee and applicable state and federal taxes. The use
of generic drugs is encouraged and pharmacists are prohibited from balance
billing employees for charges over the fee schedule amount. s.102.425.
- Restricted Work in the Healing Period.
Under this amendment employees will not be eligible to receive compensation
for temporary disability if they refuse an offer of suitable employment
without reasonable cause; or if the employment was suspended or terminated
by the employer because of a commission of a crime substantially related to
the employment; or if the employment was suspended or terminated by the
employer because of violation of the employer's drug policy in effect and
enforced at the time of injury. s.102.43(9).
- Supplemental Benefits. The maximum
supplemental benefit rate is increased in two (2) steps. The initial step
will increase the maximum rate from $233 per week to $ 321 per week for
injuries occurring before January 1, 1985 and payable for weeks of
disability beginning on the effective date of the amendment. The second step
will increase the maximum benefit rate from $ 321 per week to $338 per week
for injuries occurring before January 1, 1987 and payable for weeks of
disability beginning January 1, 2007. s.102.44(1).
- Payment to State Fund-Death Claims
. The payment (assessment) to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit
Fund by insurers and self-insured employers for injuries resulting in death
is increased from $10,000 to $20,000. s.102.49(5).
- Payment to the State Fund-Dismemberment.
The payment (assessment) to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund by
insurers and self-insurers for injuries resulting in dismemberment is
increased from $10,000 to $20,000. s.102.59(2).
- Illegal Employment of Minors. This
amendment redirects the payments by employers for double and treble
compensation penalties for the illegal employment of minors from the minor
to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund. The amendment also provides
the employer is no longer required to make any payment if the employer is
misled in hiring the minor because of fraudulent written evidence of age
presented by the minor. s.102.60.
- Travel Expense ( Mileage ). This
amendment codifies the Department's policy that injured employees receive
mileage reimbursement for travel to attend vocational rehabilitation
training at the same rate state employees receive for mileage. ss.102.61(1)
- Primary &Secondary Liability. This is
a technical amendment by the drafter to modernize the language in this
- Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund.
This amendment requires that payments of surcharges, interest on late
surcharge payments, double and treble compensation due for the illegal
employment of minors and interest on late payments of the operations
assessment are to be paid into the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund.
- Barred Claims. Under this amendment
the specified traumatic barred claims will no longer be paid by the Work
Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund and will become the liability of insurers
and self-insured employers beginning with the effective date of the
amendment. s.102.66(1) and (2).
- Administrative Expenses & Interest.
The worker's compensation operations fund is established as a separate
nonlapsible fund to be used only for statutory purposes and not for any
other state purpose. The amendment also provides for interest at a rate of 1
per cent per month on any unpaid assessments that are not paid within 90
days with the interest payable to the Work Injury Supplemental Benefit Fund.
s.102.75(1m),(2) and (4).
- Uninsured Employers Fund. Several
sections were amended. One amendment provided that the money in the
Uninsured Employers Fund can be expended only for statutory purposes and
cannot be used for any other purpose. The other amendments are of a
technical nature by the drafter to correctly cite current statutes.
ss.102.80(1m), 102.81 (1)(a), 102.81(2) and 102.87(4).