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June 2022

Nice work if you can get it

The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation has posted job openings for three Appeals Panel judges. This, apparently, is in response to three recent departures – we’ve learned that Rafael Quintanilla, Gary Kilgore, and Tom Knapp have retired. We’re envious, and we wish them well. 

Speaking of envy, the Division’s job posting describes some sweet fringe benefits. They include the following:

•    Telecommuting
•    96 hours of accrued vacation a year
•    96 hours of accrued sick leave a year
•    20+ holidays every year

In Texas, the wheels of justice grind slowly

Speaking of appeals, we continue to await the decision of the appeals court in our legal challenge to the Division’s Supplemental Income Benefits rule.

Readers may recall that our firm, on behalf of an interested insurance carrier, filed suit challenging the validity of the SIBs rule on the basis that it impermissibly allows claimants to collect SIBs even if they do not document their work search with job applications as required by the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. Travis County district judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed with the carrier that the rule is invalid, and she enjoined the Division from applying it. But the Division appealed to the Third Court of Appeals and, because the Division is part of a state agency, the judgment is stayed during the appeal.

The parties filed legal briefs in the court of appeals, and on August 30, 2021 the court announced  that it did not need to hear oral argument and the case was “ready for disposition on the briefs.” That was 10 months ago. By comparison, in the recent case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion, the court issued its decision 8 months and 11 days after briefing was complete. And one could conclude that the issues in that case are more complicated than the issues in our SIBs case. 

By the way, SLS partner Jane Stone will be discussing the SIBs case at the upcoming Texas Bar CLE Advanced Workers’ Compensation seminar in August, by which time the court might have issued a decision.   

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP 

Coming soon - your EDI data collection agent questions answered

If you have questions about the Division’s new EDI data collection agent and the billing registration process, you’re not alone. Insurance carriers have so many questions that the Division is hosting a Zoom call to address them. The call comes in the wake of the Division’s announcement that it is changing the process by which insurance carriers must report claim data through electronic data interchange (EDI). 

Currently, carriers are required to report EDI claim data using an antiquated standard  – to be precise, International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) Release 1.0. But beginning July 26, 2023, the Division will be requiring carriers to use the current standard, IAIABC Release 3.1.4. This and other requirements are set out in new Division rules 124.100 - 124.108. 

As part of the conversion, the Division designated a private contractor, Verisk, as its data collection agent for claim EDI release 3.1 data. Verisk will bill insurance carriers, other than governmental entities, for the cost of data collection. Accordingly, insurance carriers were required to register their billing contact information with Verisk by June 13, 2022. 

Also, as part of the conversion, each insurance carrier will be required to designate one person as its claim EDI compliance coordinator and provide that person’s contact information to the Division. Carriers can report this information to the Division on new Form EDI-03. 

Bonus cocktail party trivia: According to its website, the IAIABC was founded in 1914 and is an association of workers’ compensation jurisdictional agencies from around the world, as well as private organizations involved in the delivery of workers’ compensation benefits and services. It works to identify best practices, develop and implement standards, and provide education and information sharing. 

Chiropractic leads to lower costs in workers' compensation claims?

Color us skeptical, but new research suggests that chiropractic care may, indeed, lead to lower costs in some types of workers’ compensation claims. 

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) announced last month the release of its new study titled Chiropractic Care for Workers with Low Back Pain, which considered data from 28 states, including Texas.  The results may be surprising to some. Among the study’s key findings were that claims with care provided exclusively by chiropractors were associated with lower costs and shorter duration of temporary disability than a set of claims with similar characteristics where care was exclusively provided by non-chiropractic providers.

More cocktail party trivia: According to its website, the WCRI is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Organized in 1983, the Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further insured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP 

Neurological symptoms persist in majority of COVID-19 long-haulers

New research suggests that many people suffer neurological symptoms long after contracting COVID-19. 

According to Neuroscience News, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine are conducting a longitudinal study to track neurological symptoms in COVID-19 “long-haulers.” The first round of results, published June 15 in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, found that the majority of participants still had some neurological symptoms after six months. 

56 persons with neurological symptoms following a COVID-19 infection were recruited to the study.  Baseline measurements were taken a few months after their initial infection and repeated three and six months later. When participants returned for their six-month follow-up, only one-third reported complete resolution of symptoms. The other two-thirds reported persistent neurological symptoms, though most had diminished in severity. The most prevalent symptoms at six-months were memory impairment and decreased concentration. 

It's in the (golf) bag. . .

Kids’ Chance of Texas has awarded 30 scholarships so far this year to kids who had a parent killed or catastrophically injured at work. There are more waiting to apply, so the group is hard at work raising money to make sure each one can be helped. You or your company can impact this effort directly by buying a sponsorship for the upcoming KCTX Golf Tournament on October 28. 

SLS is sponsoring again this year because this effort is near and dear to us. Go to for details, or send a check made out to Kids’ Chance of Texas to the attention of Jane Stone at SLS and she will make sure you get signed up . . . golf is included, depending on the level of sponsorship. 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

You're welcome

Those of you who listen to podcasts when you walk, run, or simply want to avoid any conversation with the unwashed masses on Southwest Airlines should check out Feedspot’s revised list of the 30 Best Workers’ Compensation Podcasts. Rounding out Feedspot’s top three are:

1.     Comp + Coffee

Described by Feedspot as a podcast from Payscale that talks through the art and science of compensation management. Two episodes per quarter. Average length 38 minutes. 

2.    Third Fridays

Described by Feedspot as a podcast from Lois LLC in which attorneys discuss workers’ compensation issues, share their opinions, and engage in colorful conversations. One episode per month. Average length 37 minutes.

3.     Adjusted

Described by Feedspot as a podcast in which Claire Muselman and Greg Hamlin take a deep dive with industry leaders who are changing the landscape of workers' compensation to offer a new perspective on insurance. Two episodes per month. Average length 36 minutes. 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

SLS work safety tips
This month's subject - ladders

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