Evidence-Based Vocational Evaluation Recommendations for the California Workers’ Compensation System
Senate Bill 899 substantially changed the method of determining permanent disability for California’s industrially injured workers. The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Disability (5th ed.), is now the basis of medical evaluation for permanent disability awards for the California workers’ compensation system. A different approach and structure is needed to meet the criteria for substantial medical evidence determined by physicians and substantial vocational evidence as determined by vocational experts. Vocational experts must provide a reasonable factual basis for their work and conclusions. Vocational Experts are suppliers of facts to the triers of fact in the California workers’ compensation system. VEs must be able to understand and apply Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board rules and regulations, case law, and critical analyses such as causality and apportionment as defined by the California Labor Code Sections 4663 and 4664 or be at risk for having their forensic vocational evaluations rejected by the triers of fact. This paper addresses the structure and purpose of forensic vocational evaluations as pertains to the California workers’ compensation process for evaluation of vocational disability. A comprehensive structure of the forensic vocational evaluation process, successfully utilized by the authors, is offered for consideration. Finally, the authors offer a review of case law regarding causation and apportionment, including a suggested process for the vocational evaluator to utilize.
Complete Article as Published in the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals