The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a new decision in the case Combine v. WCAB (National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp.) on August 14, 2008. This case dealt with the issue of whether or not the Claimant needs to be at maximum medical improvement (MMI) before his benefits can be modified pursuant to an impairment rating evaluation (IRE).
In this case, the IRE physician did not render an opinion that the Claimant was at MMI and thought that a finding of MMI was not required by the Workers' Compensation Act. The Workers' Compensation Judge accepted this interpretation as well as the Appeal Board. However, the Commonwealth Court reversed.
The Court basically followed the language of the AMA Guides which are used to determine impairment ratings. The Fifth Edition of the AMA Guides requires that to determine an impairment rating, the Claimant’s condition must be permanent, thus the Claimant’s condition must be at MMI.
To see the full decision, click here.