WCAB DECIDES THAT VOUCHER RIGHTS CAN BE SETTLED, IN LIMITED CASES, IN POST JAN. 1, 2013 CLAIMS


In the Panel decision of Beltran v. Structural Steel Fabricators (2016 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. Lexis (citation pending)), the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board found that the parties could settle the injured workers' rights to a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit voucher. In the Beltran case, there was a good faith dispute as to compensability.

The parties had submitted a Compromise and Release which included a settlement of the

Applicant's rights to a voucher for his post January 1, 2013 claim. The Judge in the matter

approved the settlement but specifically disallowed the settlement of the voucher rights.

The matter was submitted to the WCAB on the issue of the right of the parties to settle

the SJDB voucher in a post January 1, 2013 claim.

The WCAB, in a panel decision, analogized the settlement of the voucher right to the settlement of vocational rehabilitation rights under the old system. The Board found that where Thomas V. Sports Chalet allowed settlement of vocational rehabilitation rights where there was a showing of a serious and good faith issue as to compensability, the parties in the present case should be allowed to settle voucher rights with a similar showing. This is contrary to what our industry has been told by the local judges for the past few years.

With the decision in Beltran, parties can now settle voucher rights in cases where they can show there is a "serious, good faith dispute which, if resolved against the injured worker, would defeat the injured worker's entitlement to all workers' compensation benefits." This case provides the parties a neat and clean way of disposing of lingering voucher issues in a compromise and release settlement of disputed cases.

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