On May 1, 2009, the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers Compensation Programs adopted the newest version of the American Medical Association’s Guidelines to Rating a Permanent Impairment, 6th Edition. Wow, what a mouth-full!
The AMA Guides, 6th Ed., as they are commonly called, changed how the OWCP adjuticated claims for schedule awards. A schedule award is a payment of compensation to a claimant for the permanent loss of use to a part of their body. The major difference as the OWCP moved from the 5th to the 6th edition has to do with how the specific impairment is calculated.
5th edition ratings where mainly considered as a range of motion based impairment. An examining physician could measure the losses in motion to a limb and use the tables in the old version to calculate impairment. Of course the actual methods are much more complex, but this seemed to be a reasonable method of measuring permanent damage.
The newer version, the 6th edition, uses a diagnosis based impairment. Therefore, if you have a particular diagnosis, you get a particular percentage of loss awarded with some small modifiers to mildly change the ratings. This method makes the actual calculation much more difficult for the physician, and often times, for the patient as well.
Many of the physicians here at FedDoctor.com have extensive experience with the 6th edition ratings. Because of the amount of time that is required to properly calculate impairment under the 6th edition, some of those doctors may charge an out of pocket fee if you are not regularly treating with them. In some cases, you may be able to have some, if not all, of your out of pocket charges reimbursed by the OWCP.
Remember, schedule awards are not given if the impairment rating report is not done correctly, and an incorrect amount can be given if your doctor does not comply with OWCP’s specific requirements. These special requirements are almost always different from state law workers comp regulations.
FedDoctor.com is here to help you find a great new doctor to help you with treatment and evaluations. Visit toady and get started on moving your federal workers compensation claim forward.
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