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TABLE OF CONTENTS


ATTENTION: You may be eligible for Rate Adjustment Fund benefits if you receive or have received workers' compensation benefits due to a death or permanent and total disability. Please contact Michael Arnold, Deputy Counsel, if you have questions.


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Commission stops uninsured employers
Snow closings
No gifts, please
Public self-insured employers' report due
Mobile app for insurance coverage database

Note changes to calendars
Governor Quinn appoints Ron Rascia Acting Chairman
Arbitration territory changes in 2015
WC loss costs drop nearly 20%; Illinois leads US in premium savings

New arbitrator assignments announced
2015 Fee schedule rates will increase 1.70%
New process for requesting files
2015 WC advisory insurance rates to drop 5.5%
Do not send mail to hearing sites

Avoid the dangers of painkillers
Settlement tips
Attorney code numbers now mandatory
Arbitration policies in effect   
Features on IWCC website

Think "Safety First" at work and at home
Injuries continue to decline
Commission encourages more Settlement Days
Send court orders to Commission
Need help bringing a worker back to light duty


 

Commission stops uninsured employers

For four years, the Insurance Compliance Unit served Barbara Surges, individually and as Midnight Services in Addison, six times for failure to obtain workers' compensation insurance. Each time, Surges bought insurance and then allowed the policy to lapse. Surges agreed to pay a $70,000 fine, but did not pay. The DuPage County Court has just issued an injunction shutting down the company.

The Commission also executed a work-stop order on Nolasco Montesa, individually and as Montesa Express in Joliet, for failure to obtain workers' compensation insurance.

Both of these individuals were given many opportunities to obtain insurance before charges were filed, but they persistently refused. These efforts protect workers as well as employers that follow the law.

posted 12/19/14

 

Snow closings

On snowy winter days, the IWCC offices will be open as long as the State of Illinois is open. Downstate hearings will be held as long as the local courthouse is open.

posted 12/19/14

 

No gifts, please

As the holiday season is upon us, please remember that IWCC rules prohibit IWCC employees from accepting anything of value from 1) any petitioner or respondent with a workers' compensation case; or 2) any attorney representing a petitioner or respondent with a workers' compensation case in front of the IWCC. This includes cash, gifts, and gift cards, as well as minor expenses such as a free lunch or even a discount.

posted 12/19/14

 

Public self-insured employers' report due

By law (745 ILCS 10/9-103(d)), every local public entity that is individually or jointly self-insured for workers' compensation must file with the Commission a report indicating its election to self-insure. This report is due within 30 days after January 1 every year.

posted 12/15/14

 

Mobile app for insurance coverage database

The National Council on Compensation Insurance has released a free mobile application for the Employers' Insurance Coverage Verification Service. Click here for details.

posted 12/11/14

 

Note changes to calendars

Please note we have made the following changes to the calendars:

Level Location Arbitrator/Panel Date Cancelled Date Added
Arbitration Geneva Granada Dec. 22  
  Ottawa O'Malley Dec. 29  

We apologize for any inconvenience.

revised 12/18/14; posted 10/15/13

 

Governor Quinn appoints Ron Rascia Acting Chairman

Governor Quinn has appointed Ronald A. Rascia as Acting Chairman, effective today. Chairman Rascia first joined the Commission in 2011 as General Counsel, and later added the duties of the Secretary of the Commission. Assistant Secretary Brendan O'Rourke will now serve as Acting Secretary. 

Chairman Rascia worked for the Illinois Attorney General for nine years as a supervising attorney in the General Law Bureau, where he defended State agencies in state and federal courts. As an attorney in the private sector, he served as General Counsel to Northwestern Golf Company and Platinum Financial Group.

Chairman Rascia earned a BA in Economics from DePaul, and both a JD and LLM in Intellectual Property from John Marshall Law School.

Former Chairman Michael Latz resigned on November 30th. We thank him for his efforts and wish him well.

posted 12/1/14

 

2015 calendars posted

The 2015 Arbitration and Review calendars are now online

posted 12/1/14

 

Workers' compensation loss costs drop nearly 20%;
Illinois leads US in premium savings

Indications are coming in to show the 2011 changes to the Workers' Compensation Act are delivering significant savings to Illinois businesses.  The National Council on Compensation Insurance reported a 19.3% drop in loss costs since 2011

In addition, the long-awaited 2014 Oregon study found Illinois had the largest savings in the country as a percentage of study median. Illinois moved from the 4th most expensive state in the US to the 7th. 

posted 10/27/14

 

New arbitrator assignments announced

Effective November 1, Arbitrator Stephen Friedman will take over the Chicago call formerly handled by Arbitrator Kelmanson, and Arbitrator Michael Nowak will take over the Collinsville/Belleville call formerly handled by Arbitrator Zanotti.

We are creating new Chicago calls for Arbitrators Bocanegra and Fruth that will take effect January 1, 2015. Because cases are continued for 90 days at a time, some cases are now being reassigned for the January calls. The computer may show the new arbitrator, but until January 1 the current arbitrator retains jurisdiction. Parties should address 19(b) motions and other matters to the current arbitrator. If you have any questions, please contact the Chairman's Office.

Click here to read more about the new arbitrators.

revised 10/17/14; posted 10/10/14

 

2015 Fee schedule rates will increase 1.70%

Medical fee schedule rates will increase 1.70% on January 1, 2015. The 2015 rates will be 38% lower than medical inflation since the fee schedule took effect in 2006. 

Annual Adjustments
Effective date
CPI-Medical
CPI-U / IL fee sch.
Difference

February 1, 2006

4.37%

4.90%

0.53%

January 1, 2007

4.26%

3.80%

-0.46%

January 1, 2008

4.52%

1.97%

-2.55%

January 1, 2009

3.26%

5.37%

2.11%

January 1, 2010

3.31%

-1.48%

-4.79%

January 1, 2011

1.03%

1.01%

-0.02%

September 1, 2011*

 
-30.00%

-30.00%

January 1, 2012

3.19%

3.77%

0.58%

January 1, 2013
4.05%
1.69%
-2.36%
January 1, 2014
2.34%
1.52%
-0.82%
January 1, 2015
2.09%
1.70%
0.39%

Cumulative

32.42%

-5.75%

-38.17%

*Effective 9/1/11, pursuant to HB1698, all fees were reduced by 30%.

Section 8.2(a) of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act provides that, each year, fee schedule rates shall increase or decrease by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index-U (CPI-U) in the previous year.

The 2015 rates will be posted as soon as the vendor, Optuminsight, calculates them and obtains information about new and deleted codes. The rates are usually posted at the end of the year. We will give notice on this web page and through our ListServe when the rates are available.

posted 9/22/14


New process for requesting files

To improve services, the IWCC has created a dedicated email address for parties to request documents. 

Parties to a case
(petitioner, respondent, their attorneys, and petitioner's medical provider)

Email wcc.recordrequest@illinois.gov.  Please allow one week for a response before re-sending the email.  If you are requesting a document on a case that was closed more than three months ago, allow two weeks for us to retrieve the document from a remote warehouse. 

In Chicago, parties may view the case file in person upon proof of identity (ARDC card and/or valid State ID). 

Non-parties

Email a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to FOIA Officer Dennie Michelle Mogensen and copy Nicholas Velazquez, or mail requests to

Ms. Dennie Michelle Mogensen, FOIA Officer
IWCC
100 W. Randolph Ste 8-200
Chicago, IL 60601

Information falling under FOIA exemptions will be redacted.

The IWCC is dedicated to providing documents promptly and protecting the privacy of claimants.

revised 8/12/14; posted 11/20/12

 

2015 WC advisory insurance rates to drop 5.5%

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) filed for an 5.5% decrease in voluntary advisory insurance rates, effective January 1, 2015. This is the third decrease in three years.  Advisory rates have dropped over 18% since the 2011 reforms.

To read the Governor's press release, click here.

posted 7/31/14

 

Do not send mail to hearing sites

Please do not send mail to our hearing sites! It only causes confusion and delays.  Send all correspondence to the appropriate address on the "Contact Information" web page. This will expedite the process. 

posted 7/18/14

 

Avoid the dangers of painkillers

The number of poisoning deaths has doubled in recent years, largely due to overdoses of prescribed painkillers. Painkiller sales have increased over 600% since 1997. More people die from overdoses of legal drugs than from cocaine and heroin combined!

The National Safety Council offers tips on using opioid painkillers safely. If you or someone you love uses painkillers, learn how to prevent, identify, and respond to overdoses.

revised 7/1/14; posted 6/9/14

 

Settlement tips

When submitting settlement contracts, please keep the following points in mind:

1. Make sure your settlements are legible! If the terms are long, please attach an additional page.  If the document isn't clear, it may be misrepresented in our computer system.  Once the contract is destroyed, the computer record will be all that remains.
2.

Send us one copy for every case number listed on the contract, plus one more copy, plus any copies you want returned to you.

For example, if two cases are listed on a contract, the arbitrator will need to keep three copies. If you want us to send you one copy, send four copies (2 case numbers + 1 extra + 1 for you).

3.

If you enclose a cover letter, make sure you copy the opposing party. Otherwise, it could be an ex parte communication, and we may return the contracts to you.

4. If an arbitration decision has been appealed, the arbitrator no longer has jurisdiction in the case. The settlement contract must be considered by the assigned commissioner.
5. Send all correspondence to the appropriate address on the "Contact Information" web page. Do not send mail to a hearing site! 
6. If you want us to mail you copies of an approved contract, enclose an 8" x 11" self-addressed, stamped envelope with adequate postage

We will appreciate your attention to these details, which will keep the process moving smoothly.

revised 7/15/14; posted 6/10/13

 

Attorney code numbers now mandatory

The Commission now requires attorneys to enter their attorney code numbers on each document filed at the IWCC. The attorney code numbers prevent errors and reduce our data entry time considerably.

If you do not have an attorney code number, please download our form, fill it out, and email it to Yvonna Castronova (312/814-6564).

If you move, complete a Notice of Change of Address (IC26) for each case number, and direct it to James Gentry (312/814-6714) in Data Entry.

We appreciate your cooperation in this effort to facilitate the quick, accurate entry of information into our database.

posted 5/6/14

 

Arbitration policies in effect

This is a reminder that the following arbitration trial policies are in effect:

1. Parties present and ready for trial shall be given priority over parties either not ready or those requesting pre-trials.
2. Parties will not be required by arbitrators to submit to pre-trials.
3. Parties who request a pre-trial will be given an opportunity for a pre-trial after trials have concluded.
4. All additional rules or requirements of arbitrators, as a condition to obtaining a trial, that are inconsistent with the mandate of Section 16 that procedures be simple and summary, shall be immediately discontinued.
5. All arbitrators will grant trials pursuant to Section 19(b) of the Act on any case where the petitioner is claiming past or current benefits remain unpaid, regardless of the petitioner's current work status. This includes past or future medical, TTD, and maintenance.  For example, if a petitioner has returned to work but TTD or medical remains unpaid, he or she has a right to a trial pursuant to Section 19(b).
6. All arbitrators at all Downstate venues will begin conducting trials on each and every trial date listed on their schedule if requested to do so by the parties. Furthermore, the parties will not be required to wait through each day of the call until they are reached and may return for trial on the date they have chosen.

revised 2/14/12; posted 2005

 

Features on IWCC website

We are always trying to improve our website.  Here's a list of recent improvements.

1.

The Commission offers a group email news service that sends out news as soon as it is posted to our website.  Over 2,200 people have signed up. To enroll, type your email address in the field at the top of the news page. You should receive an email asking for confirmation; if you didn't, you may want to check your spam settings.  The emails will be sent from wcc-newsgroup@lists.illinois.gov.

2.

The case information web page allows users to check the status of cases, obtain attorneys' contact information, status call dates, hearing locations, accident dates, parts of body injured, motions, connected cases, and terms of settlements/decisions. You can now search by employee or employer name!  This page is receiving over 200,000 hits each month.

Please use this page instead of calling us for this information: the online information is more readily available to you, and our Information staff will then be free to give time to callers with substantive questions.

Because we update our database at night, the case screen is available Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There is a link on the upper right-hand and left-hand sides of our home page, or you can click here.

3.

Users may search online for an employer's w.c. insurance carrier, thanks to information provided by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.  This page is receiving 25,000 hits each month. There are links in the right- and left-hand columns on our home page, or you may click here

4.

Chicago trial dates are posted roughly one hour after a Chicago status call ends. The online list is the official list of Chicago trial dates that were assigned at the status call.  The arbitrator no longer manually stamps documents at the call.  If you wish to reschedule a trial, please contact the arbitrator to whom the case is assigned. 

Since this change took effect, Commission staff have been instructed to refer callers with questions about trial dates to the website.

5. You may now fill out and print the pdf forms using the Adobe Reader.  You can save them if you buy Adobe Acrobat.
6. Starting with January 2014, we now post Commission-level decisions online.

Please let us know if you have any suggestions for the website. It exists to serve you, so tell us how it can be better.

revised 4/22/142; posted 2005




Think "Safety First" at work and at home

Which would you guess is higher: the rate of accidental injury at home or at work?  Believe it or not, the National Safety Council says home is more dangerous. And while work-related injury rates are declining, off-the-job injuries have increased significantly. 

Nine out of ten deaths and three out of four injuries to workers in 2012 occurred off the job. We encourage everyone to cultivate safety awareness at all times.

revised 4/23/14


Injuries continue to decline

The overall injury rate in Illinois in 2011 was 66% lower than in 1990. PPD injuries are 40% lower.  Experts believe that some of the decline is due to improved safety efforts. These programs are great investments, because everyone wins when accidents are prevented.

Frequency of Injury by Type per 100,000 Workers in Illinois

POLICY YEAR

MEDICAL ONLY

TTD

PPD

PTD

FATAL

TOTAL INJURIES

1990

6,948

1,661

919

4

7

9,539

1995

4,877

1,226

675

4

4

6,786

2000
3,869
842
689
7
5
5,412
2005
2,585
600
541
13
2
3,741
2010
2,220
533
557
2
2
3,315
2011
2,138
505
554
1
2
3,201

Source: National Council on Compensation Insurance, Annual Statistical Bulletin, 1993-2014 editions, Exhibit XII, "First Report" data.  Fatal and PTD data are based on a small number of cases and should be viewed with caution. TTD = Temporary Total Disability; PPD = Permanent Partial Disability; PTD = Permanent Total Disability.

Fatal injuries. Since the US Department of Labor started this study in 1992, fatal injuries have declined significantly: down 26% in the US, down 44% in Illinois.  The construction and transportation industries have the most fatalities; transportation and violence are the leading causes of death. Men and self-employed workers are disproportionately likely to be killed.

Fatal Occupational Injuries in U.S. and Illinois
YEAR
U.S.
ILLINOIS
1992
6,217
260
1995
6,275
249
2000
5,920
206
2005
5,734
194
2010
4,690
203
2011
4,692
177
2012
4,628
146
Change 1992-2012
-26%
-44%

Nonfatal injuries. In the US, 3.4% of private-sector workers experienced a nonfatal injury in 2012.  In Illinois, the rate was 3.2%. The most common type of injury was a sprain or strain, and the back was the part of the body most injured.

Source: http://www.bls.gov/iif/

revised 8/1/14


Commission encourages more Settlement Days

As we all know, the Commission is a high-volume operation. Each arbitrator handles roughly 3,000 cases at any time, which makes it essential to make the best possible use of his or her time. We also know that opposing parties on a case often do not meet until the day of trial. Valuable trial time is then spent on perfunctory matters, easily-resolved discrepancies, and hallway negotiations.

In response, several years ago the Commission started encouraging groups to hold a "Settlement Day" at the Commission. The idea is to bring the two sides together informally to discuss the case and narrow the issues in dispute.

In a typical Settlement Day, an employer, insurance company, or law firm will invite opposing counsel on 25-100 cases to come to the Commission to see if the issues in dispute can be resolved.

No hearing officers or Commission staff are present at Settlement Day conferences. If the parties reach agreement, an arbitrator is available to review the settlement contracts that day.

Thousands of cases have been resolved through this process, and the Commission encourages groups to try it for themselves.

If you find files that are ready to go and you invite the opposing counsel to a Settlement Day, "your success rate should be over 50%," says Keith Brown, senior claims manager at Wausau Insurance, which has set up over a dozen Settlement Days.

"You can close more cases in a Settlement Day than you would ordinarily close in a day or even a week," he continues. "Everyone's in a frame of mind to settle the claims out. It brings down both parties' caseloads and gets the files out of the system."

For more information, or to schedule a Settlement Day, please contact Nick Velazquez (312/814-6560).

revised 7/22/08

 

Send court orders to Commission

If you are involved in a case in which a court issues an order requiring the Commission to act, please send a copy of the order to Yvonna Castronova (312/814-6564), and ask the court to return the transcript to us. The courts do not always send us copies of their orders, and cases may fall into limbo if we are not informed. Thanks for your help in keeping the process running smoothly.

 

Need help bringing a worker back to light duty?

The federal Job Accommodation Network (800/526-7234) offers free information regarding workplace accommodations for disabled workers. This service may be particularly helpful to employers that are trying to bring injured workers back to light-duty work.

Given the functional requirements of a job and the individual's limitations, a consultant will provide advice on the appropriate workplace accommodations. Fortunately, most employees can be accommodated at a modest cost. Often, it is cheaper to pay for the accommodations than to continue to pay Temporary Total Disability benefits.

 

 

 

   
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