Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked QuestionsMarch 24, 2020Source
To minimize the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and continue business operations, our BWC staff is now teleworking. While we may be operating from a different physical location, we do not currently anticipate major issues with continuing to provide our employers, injured workers, and the many others we serve, with service. Phone numbers and email addresses for our customer service representatives remain the same. We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary. We know you may have questions that we are just not able to immediately answer. We promise to keep you updated and share information as we have it. In the meantime, thank you for your patience as we all work through COVID-19 together. For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19) visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. For questions about COVID-19’s effect on BWC, you can email BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Claims and Policy Processing
Q 1: If I contract COVID-19, is it a compensable workers’ compensation claim?
A: It depends on how you contract it and the nature of your occupation. Generally, communicable diseases like COVID-19 are not workers’ compensation claims because people are exposed in a variety of ways, and few jobs have a hazard or risk of getting the diseases in a greater degree or a different manner than the general public. However, if you work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and contract Covid-19 from work exposure, BWC could allow your claim.
Q 2: If I am quarantined due to COVID-19 can I receive workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits?
A: BWC can only pay compensation in an allowed claim for disability resulting from the allowed conditions. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine however, expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. For more information on unemployment benefits go to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Q 3: Are you making determinations on new claims?
A: Yes. Our staff will be teleworking and have access to our systems.
Q 4: How will my benefits be extended when my doctor’s office is closed, and they haven’t completed my Medco-14?
A: To minimize the chance of interruption of benefits for injured workers currently receiving temporary total compensation, staff have been instructed to continue payments to April 30, 2020.
Q 5: Will my benefits be extended if I am participating in a rehab program?
A: To minimize the chance of interruption of benefits for injured workers currently receiving living maintenance compensation, payment plans will continue to April 30, 2020.
Q 6: Will my wage loss benefits be discontinued if I’m unable to complete the job searches?
A: Job searchers will be suspended until April 30, 2020, and all forms of wage loss payments (working wage loss/non-working wage loss, living maintenance wage loss) will be continued.
Q 7: I have an Independent Medical Exam (IME) scheduled and it has been canceled, will my benefits be suspended?
A: No, your benefits will not be suspended. If you need to cancel the exam there will be no penalty for doing so. In the future, you will be notified of a rescheduled date.
Q 8: How will BWC be handling 90-day and extent of disability IMEs?
A: Currently, BWC is suspending all IMEs but we are exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations. Claims staff will be setting up follow-up reminders.
Q 9: Will I be able to speak with my claim representative?
A: If you are represented by an attorney, call your attorney first. Staff will be monitoring voice mail on a limited basis, but the most efficient method of communication will be via email messaging. The email address for your claims service specialist (CSS) can be found at the bottom of any correspondence you have previously received or look up your claim here. For general questions, you may also call our call center at 1-800-OHIOBWC.
Q 10: What happens if my claim is denied or my employer does not agree with my claim?
A: The normal appeal process remains in place – parties to the claim will continue to have 14 days to appeal. The Ohio Industrial Commission (IC) will continue to have hearings. For the latest information visit the IC website at www.ic.ohio.gov.
Q 11: Will my Ohio Industrial Commission hearing be canceled?
A: Please feel free to visit the IC website at www.ic.ohio.gov to view updated information and press releases.
Q 12: Will I be able to pick up a check for compensation payment in a local service office?
A: After March 18, 2020, you will no longer be able to pick up your check from a local service office. We will address requests for overnight delivery on a case by case basis.
Q 13: How will BWC handle additional allowance and Temporary Total (TT) entitlement requests that would ordinarily require an IME?
A: BWC will continue processing additional allowance and TT entitlement requests and seek physician file reviews instead of IMEs when possible. BWC is also exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations.
Q 14: How is BWC addressing C-92 applications?
A: Except for an increase to a percentage of permanent disability (%PP) award these requests must be sent for an IME. While IMEs are temporarily suspended, BWC is exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations.
Q 15: Will BWC allows employers to delay installment payment due to COVID-19’s hardship?
A: BWC is reviewing legal requirements along with other payment options. We will provide information on this as soon as we are able.
Q 16: Will BWC be suspending audits of self-insuring (SI) and state fund (SF) employers?
A: Yes, BWC has suspended face-to-face audits for both SI and SF employers. Paper and virtual audits will continue. We will be issuing temporary certificates to SI employers.
Q 17: What are employers supposed to do about the classes that were canceled? What about the ½ day classroom training?
A: Employers are encouraged to take advantage of online classes for program requirements while we continue to assess other training options.
Q 18: Will BWC extend the public employer taxing district (PEC) true-up grace period that ended March 16?
A: BWC is reviewing policy and legal requirements pertaining to this issue.
Q 19: Will BWC be extending program reporting/requirement completion deadlines?
A: BWC is reviewing policy and legal requirements to determine flexibility with these deadlines. Please continue to monitor the BWC.ohio.gov website for updated information.