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WCAB Extends Time Limit to Use Voucher Due to COVID-19

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ended the COVID-19 state of emergency in California. While it was in effect, however, the workers' compensation system was subject to numerous changes and disruptions. The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) moved toward remote hearings, and Gov. Newsom issued an executive order extending specified time limits established in the Labor Code and administrative regulations. One of the limits not extended, either by executive order, emergency regulation or court order, was the time limit for an injured employee to use the supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB) voucher. Pursuant to Labor Code § 4658.7(g), "The voucher shall expire two years after the date the voucher is furnished to the employee, or five years after the date of injury, whichever is later. The employee shall not be entitled to payment or reimbursement of any expenses that have not been incurred and submitted with appropriate documentation to the employer prior to the expiration...

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Obtaining the Voucher After Settlement

Sometimes, parties settle a claim by way of compromise and release (C&R) before the injured worker is released from care. There are various reasons why they might agree do this. Employees might want to avoid the delays and risks in the litigation process. Employers might want to avoid discovery and litigation costs, and to close the file. Although most issues can be resolved as part of a C&R, Labor Code § 4658.7(g) precludes settlement or commutation of a claim for the supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB) voucher for injuries occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2013. But an employee is not automatically entitled to the voucher. Pursuant to § 4658.7(b), an employee is entitled to the voucher only if the injury causes permanent partial disability and the employer does not make a timely offer of regular, modified or alternative work.

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