Case name: Prichard v. Labor Commission and K-Mart, No. 20070913 (Utah Ct. App. 07/16/09, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Utah Court of Appeals upheld a medical panel's determination that the worker was not permanently and totally disabled and was able to work light to moderate duty eight hours a day.
What it means:
Utah law expressly provides that evidence of an employee's entitlement to Social Security disability benefits does not create a presumption of an entitlement to workers' compensation benefits.
A worker alleged he was permanently and totally disabled under the Workers' Compensation Act. He argued that a medical panel incorrectly concluded he retained the functional capacity to perform light to moderate work because it failed to conduct a residual functional capacity test. He also argued the labor commission erred in determining he was capable of performing other available work because his commuting distance and wage requirements were not properly analyzed. The Utah Court of Appeals rejected his arguments. It held that the worker presented no legal evidence that a medical panel was required to conduct a functional capacity test. It pointed out that the panel made its determination only after it examined him and reviewed all available medical evidence. It noted that even though an administrative law judge did not identify what the term "other work" meant in terms of his vocational abilities, the worker's experience and education as well as his work restrictions, supported the determination that there was adequate work available to him.
The court also rejected his claim that because the Social Security Administration considered him permanently and totally disabled, he was PTD for purposes of the workers' compensation act. The court pointed out the act has a clause exactly to the contrary. The court affirmed the determination that the worker was not PTD under the Workers' Compensation Act.
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August 27, 2009
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