DI 52120.160 New Hampshire Workers' Compensation (WC)
Workers’ compensation is administered by the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Department of Labor. WC is provided through private carriers but employers may self-insure.
A. Types of WC payments
Chapter 281-A of New Hampshire’s Worker’s Compensation Act covers indemnity payments. For injuries 02/08/1994 or later, the WC is based on 60 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. Prior to that date all payments were based on 2/3 of the average weekly wage. All periodic payments (including those used to calculate scheduled awards) are subject to State maximum and minimum amounts.
1. Temporary Total (TT) [281-A:28]
TT is paid before the worker has reached maximum medical improvement. TT is paid for the duration of disability.
2. Temporary Partial (TP) [281-A:31]
TP is paid when a worker who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement is able to work but is unable to earn as much as before his injury. Payments equal 60 percent of the difference between prior injury earnings and post-injury earnings. When TP begins after a period of total disability, the number of weeks of total disability paid is subtracted from the total number of weeks allowed for TP. However, TT may also be paid AFTER the total number of weeks of TP is exhausted if the worker is then deemed to be totally disabled.
Throughout the years the limits for collecting TP have changed, based on the date of injury:
Date of injury prior to 01/01/1991: 341 weeks allowed.
Date of injury from 01/01/1991 through 02/07/1994: 350 weeks allowed.
Date of injury 02/08/1994 or later: 262 weeks allowed.
3. Permanent Total (PT) [281-A:28-a]
PT is paid when the worker has reached maximum medical improvement and is unable to return to work. Payments are made for the duration of disability.
4. Permanent Partial (PP) [281-A:31-a]
PP is paid when the worker has reached maximum medical improvement and is able to return to work. This WC equals 60 percent of the difference between the worker’s average weekly wages before and after his injury. PP is paid for the duration of disability up to 262 weeks, but if the partial disability begins after a period of total disability, the weeks of total disability paid are deducted from the 262 weeks of PP allowed.
5. Scheduled Permanent Impairment Lump Sum Awards [281-A:32]
Scheduled awards are separate and distinct benefits made in addition to any other WC paid, such as weekly compensation. They are made in a single payment, often concurrently with TT WC. These permanent impairment awards are based on the percentage of permanent loss of use of a certain compensable body part (such as an arm or leg), as determined by the statutory schedule. The schedule lists the total number of weeks of WC allowed for the different body parts. If the injury caused a permanent loss to more than one compensable body part or to the spine, the award is given on the basis of a whole person permanent impairment, and is based on 350 weeks (so that a 50 percent whole person impairment would yield a 175 week award). These awards may also be made for some types of disfigurement.
The award amount is calculated using a relatively simple formula. To calculate the award amount, take the following steps:
Multiply the number of weeks for the body part injured by the percentage of loss established; then
Multiply the number of weeks calculated in Step 1 by the worker's WC rate.
Example: 10 percent loss of an arm would be 10 percent times 210 weeks (the number of weeks for loss of an arm). The resulting 21 weeks of benefits times the WC rate equals the total award. If the WC rate was $325 per week, the total award would be $6825. We would prorate this lump sum at $325 per week for 21 weeks.
6. Lump Sum Payments (LS) [281-A:37]
In cases where there have been at least 12 months of continuous disability (or where the best interests of all concerned will be served), lump sum agreements may be made. They must be approved by the WC Commission after a hearing.
Medical provisions: Medical WC provisions may NOT be lump-summed.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): The costs of VR services may be lump-summed, provided the lump sum agreement specifically states the portion of the lump sum amount attributable to VR services. That sum must be held in escrow by the employer or insurance carrier and paid directly to the provider of the VR services, and so is NOT offsettable and NOT an excludable expense. The VR amount is simply deducted from the gross amount of the lump sum before proration (and before calculating the proration rate in life expectancy LS settlements). For more information on life expectancy LS settlements, see DI 52150.065.
B. Cost-of-living Adjustments (COLA)
In order to be entitled to a COLA, the worker must have been denied Social Security benefits. Therefore, our beneficiaries do not receive WC COLAs.
C. Attorney fees
Attorney fees are limited to 20 percent by State operating policy.
D. Retirement insurance benefit (RIB) considerations
New Hampshire does not offset WC for receipt of RIB.
E. Time limits for filing
For an initial claim: An injured worker must file a claim within 3 years from the date of the injury.
To petition for a hearing: The worker must petition for a hearing within 18 months after receiving notice that his claim was denied.
To request a review: The worker is barred from receiving WC payments on the grounds of changed circumstances if 4 or more years have passed since his WC was last paid or denied. If a request for reinstatement of WC was successful, WC is only paid retroactive to the date the hearing was requested.
F. Verifying WC
The New Hampshire Department of Labor is the best source of information regarding any WC payments. Their phone number is 603-271-3587. You will need to send an SSA-1709 in order to obtain WC verification. You may send the request by fax to 603-271-6149. Alternatively, you may send by mail to:
New Hampshire Department of Labor
95 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
G. WC Forms
Memo of Payment of Disability Compensation (9 WCA): This form is filed when WC is paid, adjusted, or ended. Payment information is clearly stated on the form.
Memo of Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits (9 WCA-1): This form is filed when the WC claim was denied.
Memo of Permanent Impairment Award (10 WCA): This form contains detailed information regarding Scheduled Permanent Impairment Awards. It must be signed as approved by the Department of Labor in order to be binding.
Lump Sum Settlement Agreement (15 WCA): This 6 page form has details about what the lump sum represents on page 5. It must be shown as approved (on the bottom of page 1) in order to be binding and release the employer/carrier from all future liability.
Release and Settlement of Claim (WC-3PR-1): This form is filed when a third party settlement is made. No settlement by the worker of his claim for damages against a third person is binding until approved by the WC Commissioner or court, and any lien the employer/carrier has is paid from it.