Is your claim closed? Have you received a Notice of Closure? Even after your "Notice of Closure," you still have important rights. First, if your claim was closed too soon, you may appeal the Notice of Closure and keep your claim open. Or, if your claim has been closed, you can reopen a worker's compensation claim.
You must know that your claim should only be closed after you have completed healing. Most of the time, your doctor will tell you that you are "medically stationary." This means your doctor can do nothing more to make you better. You may still be in pain, and you may have permanent restrictions. If so, you may get a disability award and vocational assistance. Your Notice of Closure will say if you get a disability award. You may appeal the Notice of Closure and get an increase in disability compensation, or keep you claim open if you have not finished healing.
Later, even after your claim has been closed, it can be reopened! There are 2 ways to reopen an Oregon Workers' Compensation claim:
If your condition is worse, you can ask your doctor to file an Aggravation. You fill out a Form 827 at your doctor’s and check the box on the form that says “Report of aggravation of original injury.” Your doctor must send in this form and a report describing how your condition is worse. If you can not work, your doctor must give you written permission to be off work to get your workers' comp pay started again.
If you have another condition caused by your injury, that has not been accepted, you can ask for the claim to be reopened to include it. This is called a new medical condition claim, or an omitted medical condition claim. For example, say SAIF accepted your claim for "Lumbar Strain," but you also have a herniated disc. You can make a claim for the disc, and reopen your closed claim. Again, remember if you can not work, get your doctor to give you a written excuse or restrictions to get your workers' compensation pay started.
There is no time limit on your ability to open a closed claim. After 5 years, a claim for a worsened condition must be made as a request for what is called "own motion benefits." There are some added hurdles to clear to get such a claim reopened. So, remember that even after your aggravation rights run out in 5 years, you can still get workers' compensation!
When you get a Notice of Closure you can have an attorney review if for free. If your claim has been closed, you may need a lawyer to help reopen your Oregon workers' compensation claim. If so, call Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin and Ratliff.