Legislative News 2021
Last updated February 18, 2021
Washington state legislators are currently working on 3 bills that could impact injured workers in our state.
Senate Bill 5046
*As of 2/15/2021 this bill is currently passed in the Senate and is being discussed in the House.
Currently some injured workers are able to settle their claims with a process called “Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement” or CRSSA, commonly referred to as a Structured Settlement.
With the current version of the law, structured settlements consist of a large down payment and one or more monthly periodic payments until the balance of the settlement is paid in full. SB 5046 will change this to allow a one-time lump sum payment.
As it currently stands under federal law, Structured Settlements are considered periodic payments and are therefore subject to an offset (or reduction) in benefits if the injured worker is also receiving social security benefits. Since SB 5046 would allow structured settlements to be a one-time lump sum payment, a CRSSA under a lump sum settlement agreement would not be subject to a social security offset or reduction.
Senate Bill 5137
*As of 2/15/2021 this is still in the Senate with the last recommendation being to “ Do not pass”.
This bill has seen some significant changes from the original bill to the current version.
This bill changes the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for time-loss and pension benefits. Currently, cost of living increases are based on the increase of the average monthly wage in Washington State. In 2020, the average monthly wage increased by 6.7%, therefore the cost of living increase for time-loss and pension benefits was 6.7%.
The original version of this bill would have made COLA based on a change in the “consumer price index”, up to a maximum of 3%. The current substitute version of this bill (as of 2/17/2021) removes this change, but it would suspend the COLA for 2021.
* Injured workers who also receive social security benefits do not automatically receive COLA increases.
Senate Bill 5102
As of 2/15/21 this bill is still in the Senate with a majority of senators recommending “Do Pass”
This bill also has changed since its original version. The information below is regarding the current version only.
This bill concerns Independent Medical Examinations ( IME) and makes several key changes to the IME process including:
- Removing the right for the department or self-insured employer (SIE) to request an IME for case progress or to resolve an appeal.
- Allowing department or SIE to request the attending physician arrange a consultation instead of an IME to resolve disputes with regard to treatment.
- Limiting the number of times and circumstances in which an IME can be requested
- Requiring a 28 day advanced notice of IMEs for self-insured employers.
- Allowing for injured workers to record the audio and/or video of IME examinations, as long as the injured workers follows specific rules. These rules include providing advanced notice of intent to record and not interfering with the examination itself.
To contact your local state representative and state senator, visit https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/