In 1995 there were 1,553 requests for Oregon Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) review of decisions by the board's Hearings Division, a reduction of 2.9 percent from 1994's count (figure 1).


The board issued 1,655 orders during the year, 8.8 percent fewer than in 1994. Order counts include remands (31 in 1995); however, the data presented below (except figure 1) exclude remands and cases that don't directly deal with worker claims.
[Graph 1]

The claimant was the appellant in 58.1 percent of the cases, near the top of the 49-60 percent range of this statistic. Breakout by type of insurer was typical of the past few years: SAIF, private insurers, and self-insured employers had 35.1, 44.2, and 20.2 percent of the cases, respectively. Percentages by order type were as follows: orders on review (board decision on the merits), 83.7 percent; stipulations, 4.2 percent; and dismissal, 12.1 percent.


The table (percentage of orders column) gives issue relative frequencies for orders on review. Compensability (claim denial and partial denial, combined) had the highest relative frequency on record, while aggravation had its lowest relative frequency ever. Figure 2 gives historical information on the number of compensability issues.

[Table 1]

Issue dispositions.

The table (above) gives dispositions for all issues, while figure 2 gives historical acceptance rates for compensability. The 35.6 percent acceptance rate for compensability was the lowest since 1986, and the 9.1 percent “increase” rate for permanent disability was the lowest since 1989. The “increase” rate for temporary disability, on the other hand, was the highest since 1990. The disposition rates for the other issues were fairly typical.

The board issued 193 permanent partial disability (PPD) orders, including one stipulation. The 18 award increases and 23 decreases resulted in a net decrease of $132,400 in PPD awarded.

There were only six orders dealing with permanent total disability (PTD), down from 88 in 1990. The PTD grant (a reinstatement), two affirmations, and three rescissions were all by order on review.

[Graph 2]

Hearings affirmation rates.

For extent of disability, the rates are given in the table as the percentage disposition of "no change" in the award. For compensability, aggravation, and penalty issues, the rates were 81.8, 88.6, and 74.7 percent, respectively. The small numbers of orders with the remaining issues precludes determination of meaningful rates.

Disputed claim settlements.

The board approved 52 DCSs in 1995, down from 84 in 1993 and 64 in 1994. They constituted over three fourths of all board stipulations. Insurers paid over $521,400 to claimants as consideration for not contesting denials.

Time lags.

The median time from request to order, for orders on review, was 215 days (7.1 months), the shortest time since 1985.

Attorney fees.

The board directed payment of fees to claimants' attorneys totaling $826,000, down 27.5 percent from 1994. The average fee was $1,635. Over 79 percent of these fees were assessed against insurers, as opposed to paid out of claimant compensation.


In 1995 the board approved 3,924 claim disposition agreements totaling $49.3 million. See figure 3. The average agreement was for almost $14,000. Claimant attorney fees totaled over $7.3 million from these agreements. Additional information about CDAs is available in a separate report.
[Graph 3]

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This document was originally published in September 1996.
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