Aide's ability to work topples claim for permanent total disability benefits
Case name: State ex rel. Guthrie v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, No. 2011-0432 (Ohio 10/10/12).
Ruling: The Ohio Supreme Court held that a nurse's aide was not entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
What it means: In Ohio, the denial of PTD can be considered unjust only when it is made against a worker who is incapable of sustained remunerative employment.
Summary: A nurse's aide sustained several work-related knee conditions that left her with a 20 percent permanent partial disability. The aide also suffered from preexisting deafness. Her conditions kept her from returning to her former position. She received temporary total disability benefits and did not work again. Vocational rehabilitation ceased, and she applied for permanent total disability benefits. She did not dispute that she was capable of sedentary employment. The Ohio Supreme Court held that the aide was not entitled to PTD benefits because she was medically and vocationally capable of sustained remunerative employment.
The court found that the aide's allowed conditions did not foreclose sustained remunerative employment. The court considered her age, varied work experience, education, and skills. She had a high school diploma, completed a four-year graphic arts program, and computer training.
The aide asserted that she made serious attempts at rehabilitation over a five-year period. The court found that she was not being punished for failing at rehabilitation. The court explained that the denial of PTD can be considered unjust only when a denial is issued against a worker who is incapable of sustained remunerative employment.
The aide also argued that her deafness should have been considered in the PTD analysis. The court disagreed, stating that a disability finding can never be based on medical conditions that are unrelated to the work injury.
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January 14, 2013
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