Protecting Injured Government Workers Act of 2012

Over 2,000 injured D.C. government employees go through the Public Sector Workers Compensation Program each year. These benefits are intended to give injured government workers financial security when injured on the job and help them pay for their medical care, rent and other basic necessities. Unfortunately, due to a decade of poor administration and noncompliance, formerly middle-class injured workers have been driven into poverty. Instead of protecting injured D.C. employees, we have allowed thousands of District residents to fall into poverty as a result of their workplace injuries. In 2004 and 2006, the D.C. Council passed legislation to reduce the time for resolving injured workers’ eligibility, to create penalties for late payments to injured workers, and to codify the preference for an injured worker’s treating physician’s opinion when determining work eligibility over that of a government-designated doctor who had very limited information regarding the claimant’s health condition. These reforms were designed to ensure that injured D.C. employees would not languish without any income while they were unable to do work. Unfortunately, the FY 2011 budget reversed some of these legislative victories. The Council granted government appointed doctors with limited knowledge of a client’s health condition greater weight in determining work eligibility, reducing the role of treating physicians. The Council also repealed protections for workers that suffered mental trauma, allowed workers to be lose their benefits even before an Administrative Law Judge has the opportunity to evaluate their side of the story, and capped benefits for injuries that ORM classifies as “temporary” even though they continue for more than 500 weeks. These repeals endangered injured workers’ right to fairly access...