Workers' Compensation Board
1999 Activity Summary

Research & Analysis
Department of Consumer & Business Services

January 2001
by Russ Reed



In 1999 there were 1,141 requests for Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board review of decisions by the board’s Hearings Division. That’s about 3.9 percent fewer requests than were received in 1998. The worker was the appellant in 51.3 percent of the cases.



The board issued 1,147 orders during the year, 15.5 percent fewer than the previous year. This figure includes five remands to the hearings division, but it excludes nine third party cases, two attorney fee cases, and one crime victim case. The data below, except Figure 1, exclude remands and cases not directly dealing with worker claims. Board own motion orders and claim disposition agreements are not considered here; information about them is available in separate reports.

Figure 1. Board review requests and orders

The breakout of orders by order type was as follows: orders on review, 87.2 percent; stipulations (including disputed claim settlements), 4.2 percent; and dismissal, 8.7 percent. These values are fairly typical of the past 10 years. SAIF was the insurer in 31.3 percent of the cases, up from 1998’s near-record-low value.


The table, in the “percentage of orders” column, gives issue relative frequencies for orders on review. Figure 2 gives historical information on the numbers of compensability disputes. The percentage of order on review cases with the compensability issue (claim denial and partial denial) was 63.1 percent, the third highest on record. On the other hand, the percentages of cases with the issues of permanent disability (13.3 percent) and aggravation (5.5 percent) were both record-low values. The percentage of cases with the penalty issue, 8.9 percent, was the second lowest ever. There were no cases with the issue of medical services or vocational assistance.

Figure 2. Compensability orders on review


Issue dispositions

The table below gives issue dispositions for orders on review, and Figure 2 gives historical acceptance rates for compensability. (An “acceptance” may be due to a board reversal of an administrative law judge’s order sustaining a denial, or a board affirmation of a judge’s order reversing a denial.) The percentage of extent of temporary disability cases awarding an increase was the lowest on record. The 34.5 percent aggravation acceptance rate was up some 10 percentage points from the record-low and near-record-low values of the previous three years. Also, the 14.6 percent penalty “yes” rate was the lowest on record.

Table 1. Issues and dispositions

Permanent disability

The board in 1999 issued 139 orders on extent of permanent disability, including six stipulations. For orders on review, dispositions are given in the table. For all order types, 4.3 percent granted an increase (the lowest since 1987). The 5 permanent partial disability award increases and 27 award decreases (includes the stipulations) resulted in a net PPD decrease of $175,000. The average decreases were 19.5 scheduled degrees and 37.5 unscheduled degrees. Combining these two award types, the average decrease was 24.0 degrees, the second smallest on record. There were three orders on permanent total disability: the board granted one PTD award (by stipulation) and rescinded two PTD awards.


Hearings affirmations rates

For extent of permanent and temporary disability, the rates are given in the table (percent disposition of “affirm”). For the issues of compensability, aggravation, and penalty, the 1999 rates are 83, 82, and 58 percent, respectively. (These rates for 1998 were 79, 81, and 57 percent.) Based on the “affirm/reverse/modify” codes, 78.8 percent of the orders on review affirmed the administrative law judge on all issues (compared to 73.5 percent in 1998), 11.8 percent reversed the judge (12.6 percent in 1998), and 9.4 percent (13.9 percent in 1998) affirmed part of the judge’s order (A/R/M code of “modify”).


Disputed claim settlements

The board approved 40 DCSs, in which insurers paid over $398,000 in consideration for not contesting denials. The average settlement was almost $9,960.


Time lags

The median time from request to order for orders on review was 128 days (4.2 months), 8 days shorter than for 1998 and the shortest time on record.

Attorney fees

The board directed payment of fees totaling $612,000 to attorneys representing injured workers, a 23.6 percent decrease from 1998 (mostly due to fewer orders). The average fee was $1,624, about 5.4 percent less than in 1998. About 84 percent of fees were assessed against the insurer, as opposed to paid out of worker compensation.

In addition to awarding claimant attorney fees, the board reduced hearings-awarded fees by $304,000 (about 3.6 percent of 1999 hearings fees). Most of these fee reductions were due to reversal of the judge on the primary issue, while some were due to successful challenges to the fee amounts.

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If you have questions about the information contained in this document please contact by email or phone: Russell Reed, Research Analyst, Research & Analysis Section, Information Management Division (503) 947-7343.

This document was originally published in January 2001.
[Printed form: 440-2363(01/01/IMD)]

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