BASIC (09-08)

DI 52120.200 Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation (WC)

A. Types of WC payments

  1. Temporary Total (TT) — maximum period is 300 weeks. The WC court can extend the initial period up to the maximum for good cause. TT is not paid covering the same period of time as unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

  2. Temporary Partial (TP) — maximum period is duration of disability

  3. Permanent Partial (PP) — maximum period is 500 weeks

    Disfigurement awards — In the case of an injury resulting in serious and permanent disfigurement, the Court determines the amount, but not in excess of $20,000.00 for an injury occurring before 11/01/2005 and not in excess of $50,000.00 for an injury occurring on or after 11/01/2005. An award for permanent disfigurement shall not be made for a part of the body for which PP disability is awarded. Disfigurement awards under the Oklahoma WC statutes are offsettable.

  4. Permanent Total (PT) — physical or mental impairment, disease, or loss from which recovery or substantial improvement cannot be expected, therefore, considered permanent. Permanent total disability awards paid from the Special Indemnity Fund or Multiple Injury Trust Fund, shall accrue from the file date of the court order finding the claimant to be permanently and totally disabled. See DI 52120.200F.1. & F.2. for types of taxes assessed on payments made from these two funds

B. Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs)

PP payments are periodically adjusted based on the date and nature of the injury. Otherwise, Oklahoma does not provide for cost of living increases for WC payments.

C. Attorney fees

Attorney fees of 10 percent permitted from TT and 20 percent permitted from other types, and based on state statutes, as determined by the courts.

D. Retirement insurance benefit (RIB) considerations

Oklahoma does not offset its WC for SSA retirement benefits.

E. Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court

The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court administers the Workers' Compensation Act.  The Court’s responsibility is to determine claims for compensation, the liability of employers and insurers, and any rights asserted under the Act.

F. Types of taxes

1. Special Indemnity Fund Tax

  • Oklahoma law used to provide that a percentage of the WC amount due a worker be withheld and paid to the State of Oklahoma taxing authority for a special indemnity fund for subsequent injuries.

  • The employer or carrier withheld the amount from what was due the worker and pays that plus a matching amount into the indemnity fund. This "Special Indemnity Fund Tax" was excludable for offset purposes.

  • In the case of a lump sum settlement, it was treated as an exclusion and deducted from the gross settlement amount prior to the proration of the settlement. It is not included with the other excludable expenses. The applicable tax percentages were:

    Period

    Tax Rate

    1970s to 1984

    2 percent

    1985 to 10/31/1992

    3 percent

    11/01/1992 to 10/31/1999

    5 percent

    11/01/1999 to 06/30/2000

    4 percent

    Dates shown in this chart refer to the date of the WC court order and the tax assessed is decided by the date of the WC court order.

  • In addition, the insurance carrier also pays an additional WC tax but the carrier’s tax is NOT deductible in SSA’s WC offset computation. Therefore, when the injured worker’s WC payment is the gross amount before the WC tax has been paid, the injured worker’s portion – NOT THE INSURANCE CARRIER’S PORTION – of Oklahoma WC tax should be subtracted from the worker’s gross Oklahoma WC periodic payments or the WC lump sum.

  • If the gross lump sum amount includes the worker’s portion of the special indemnity fund tax, subtract the tax prior to proration of the lump sum amount. The net LS amount (after the worker’s tax deducted) is your lump sum amount.

2. Multiple Injury Trust Fund Tax

  • Effective 11/01/1999, the Special Indemnity Fund was renamed the Multiple Injury Trust Fund.  Subsequent legislation has changed the manner in which the fund is funded. 

  • Beginning with awards/settlements effective 07/01/2000 or later, the 4 percent tax was collected from the employer only.  The provision for that assessment was last in effect 12/31/2001. 

  • Current law reads "The Oklahoma Tax Commission shall assess and collect from any uninsured employer a temporary assessment at the rate of five percent of the total compensation for permanent total disability awards, permanent partial disability awards, and death benefits paid out during each quarter of the calendar year by the employers." 

  • Whether the tax is collected from benefits paid the injured worker is dependent on the date the settlement occurred, not the date the law changed. 

  • A change in the law did not result in a change to or elimination of the tax for cases where the applicable tax was already being deducted at the time the law changed. 

  • Thus, it is possible that the tax deduction from periodic payments continues based on settlements before a specific date even after the law eliminated the tax for current settlements. 

Example:

  • A case where the settlement was effective 01/31/2000 ordering ongoing periodic payments.  The tax in effect at that time, 4 percent, has continued to be deducted from the periodic payments and would still be considered an excludable expense. 

  • If this settlement had occurred effective 07/31/2000 rather than 01/31/2000, there would have been no taxes deducted from the compensation checks since that settlement would have been after the date the law changed.  

3. Claimant tax

Claimant tax is a filing fee and not considered an excludable expense. It can be reimbursed upon resolution of the settlement, so it’s not really an expense of the worker.

4. Special Occupation Health and Safety Fund Tax

Special Occupation Health and Safety Fund Tax is paid by the respondent (the employer) and not considered an excludable expense.

G. Compensation orders

  • Oklahoma Court orders can be very confusing.  It is easy to mistake them for lump sum settlements when they are actually orders for the payment of additional weekly compensation.   References can be made indicating benefits due through a certain date are to be paid in a lump sum, but this is a reference to periodic benefits that are past due, not to a lump sum settlement. 

  • Instructions in a subsequent order can supersede the payment instructions in a prior order.  In fact, part of the amount shown as past due on a later order could have already been paid pursuant to an earlier order.  As a result, it is often not possible to determine the payments actually made simply by looking at the orders themselves. 

  • Contact with the WC carrier to verify the actual payments made is usually necessary.

H. Verifying WC

In Oklahoma there are six sources for Workers' Compensation (WC) information. In priority order of verification requests, these are:

  1. Claimant;

  2. Claimant's Attorney;

  3. Insurance Carrier;

  4. Self-Insured Employer;

  5. CompSource Oklahoma
    P. O. Box 53505
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105;

  6. Workers’ Compensation Court
    1915 N. Stiles
    Denver City, OK 73105
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105

If unable to obtain WC verification from other sources, such as CompSource Oklahoma or another individual WC carrier, it might on rare occasions be necessary to contact the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court. 

  • The WC Court waives their normal search fee for government employees performing in their official capacities, but does not waive the fee for making copies of the material located by the search.  They also will not accept SSA-1709's, requiring that SSA complete and submit the "Copy Request Form" available on their website. 

  • They will then send an invoice requesting payment before they release the material.

  • Since the Processing Centers (PCs) have no mechanism for paying the requested fees, any request for a search of WC Court records should be routed to the Oklahoma City Field Office. 

  • The FO has an employee that will visit the WC Court and obtain the information. 

The WC Court records approximately 80 percent of all WC claims. Their files include requests for court actions, court orders, and/or joint petitions.

The following factors limit the information from the WC Court:

  • The WC court will not have any records for injuries which occurred in the current or preceding 3 months;

  • WC Court records are often incomplete;

  • WC Court records are not automated and are often not updated timely with appeals or settlement information;

  • WC Court records frequently cannot resolve conflicts in prior WC information; and

  • WC Court verifications require a time-consuming, manual search through paper files, by a representative of the Social Security Administration.

CompSource Oklahoma is an insurance carrier. They insure all State, county and local government employees and some "high-risk" employers. In the event of court action, the WC Court records their cases.

If you are unable to obtain WC verification through one of the first four sources, field offices (FO) should request verification from the WC Court by means of an SSA-562 or E562, Request for Assistance, sent to:

D/O 783
Oklahoma City District Office
12301 N Kelley Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73131

         

FO’s can FAX requests to the Oklahoma City District Office at (405) 752-4726.

A fully completed SSA-1709, Request for Workers' Compensation Disability Benefit Information, must accompany the SSA-562 or E562. Instructions for completing the SSA-1709 are in DI 52145.010. Show the address of the contact source in the applicable block on the SSA-1709. Be sure to include both sides of the SSA-1709 when faxing. Finally, if the WC verification request is the result of a Processing Center memorandum, include a copy of the memorandum with the SSA-1709 and SSA-562 or E562. The information on the memorandum often aids in the search for WC records.

You can request information from the CompSource Oklahoma directly in the following manner:

  • Telephone the CompSource Oklahoma at (405) 232-7663 or (800) 347-3863. You will need to have available identifying information about the claimant including the Social Security number when you call.

  • The personnel at the CompSource Oklahoma office will give you the name of the examiner assigned to the case.

  • You may fax an SSA-1709 to the attention of that examiner. The fax number is (405) 962-3000. The examiner will then return the information they have concerning your claimant by fax. Include your name, office address, phone number and office fax number on the cover sheet you use to send the SSA-1709 to the CompSource Oklahoma.

I. Exhibit

Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court Form 1X – Compromise Settlement

J. References