DeWine Announces $1.6B BWC Premium Dividend + OIC Issues New Hearing Guidelines

Today was a busy day for the DeWine administration when it comes to workers’ compensation announcements and updates.

$1.4B Premium Dividend for Eligible Employers

Today, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a $1.4 billion dividend of premiums for Ohio employers, subject to approval by the Ohio BWC Board of Directors. Eligible businesses should expect swift action by the Board and likely approval in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a total $1.6B payout, $200M will be sent to local governments and $1.4B will go directly to private employers, though dividends would first be applied toward employers’ outstanding balances before checks are cut.

New OIC Guidelines for Telephone Hearings

Also today, the Ohio Industrial Commission issued new guidelines for the conduct of workers’ compensation telephone hearings beginning Monday, April 27. Notices of Hearing for matters going to hearing as of Monday, April 27 (and indefinitely thereafter) will contain a phone number and an access code for the parties and their authorized representatives to call. Here is the Commission’s statement from its website:

“Beginning on Monday, April 27, 2020, the IC will change the way it conducts telephonic hearings in an effort to increase efficiency. In addition to the names of parties, claim number, date and time of hearing, and general information telephone number, the notices of hearing will state that the hearings will be conducted by telephone, and will provide a number and access code for parties and representatives to call in order to participate. Telephonic hearings that take place prior to April 27, 2020, will be conducted in the same manner that has been used during the last couple of weeks.”

Please note that the Commission continues to schedule hearings in claims only when any of six issues are involved:

  • permanent total disability;
  • temporary total disability;
  • termination of temporary total disability;
  • wage loss;
  • allowance; or
  • additional allowance.

The Commission will continue to schedule two hearings per hour and a total of six hours of hearings per day. Further, all hearings are scheduled on the hour even though only one of the two scheduled hearings will actually commence at that time. Nonetheless, parties and representatives must call in at the appointed hour, half of whom will be given further instruction by the hearing officer as to whether to hold or call back at some later time within the hour.

Dave McCarty is the chair of Kegler Brown’s Workers’ Compensation practice where he represents Ohio employers in all aspects of workers’ compensation defense, representing them at administrative hearings before the Industrial Commission throughout the state of Ohio and before the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Dave can be reached directly at [email protected] or (614) 462-5469.