Insurance companies, TPA’s and self-insured’s handling Florida claims must now submit Re-employment Status Review Forms (DWC-22) on line with the Bureau of Reemployment and Rehabilitation (BRRS). The Florida Statute under section 440.491 and DOE rule 6A-22 F.A.C. has required this form to be completed by adjusters since the early 1990’s. However, because the filing requirements have never been enforced or subject to a penalty, little attention has been given to the completion of the form until now.
The intent of the Re-employment Status Review requirement is to encourage claims handlers to evaluate and provide services necessary to assist the injured worker to return to work as soon as medically possible. The prescribed timeframes for an adjuster to complete the report is specified in the law. See F.S.440.491(3)(a).
Now, BRRS rules, 6A-22 amended on 5/7/2009 call for mandatory electronic filing through the BRRS web portal. Carriers can automate most of the data elements but since the form calls for an adjuster’s analysis of the employee’s ability to return to work, this could be a bit trickier. If the claimant is released to light duty and temporary partial benefits are initiated but the employer has no light duty, what is the adjuster’s plan? What if the employer confirms they will not re-hire the injured worker even upon MMI release? Should the adjuster begin rehabilitation efforts to address the employee’s future work capabilities?
According to recent Florida appellate case law, Wyeth v Toscano, the court points out that temporary partial benefits must be paid unless the carrier can prove the claimant is voluntarily limiting her income and that the claimant need only prove the injury is the reason for her loss of income. No job search required. Presumably, this would be the best time for employers and carriers to determine if vocational or job placement assistance would benefit the claimant returning to work.