On March 7, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state emergency as a result of COVID-19 in New York by issuing Executive Order 202. Because of the subsequent interruption of normal economic activity in the state, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board put out an official policy following Executive Order 202 called Labor Market Attachment During COVID-19 Pandemic.
This policy concerns claimants who are expected to demonstrate attachment, resulting from a Board decision, or when it is an issue being adjudicated before the Board, or when the carrier raises it as an issue in the context of a permanent partial disability determination. It cites the difficulty that would be faced by claimants in their job searches and participating in job placement or vocational rehabilitation as a result of these restrictions. The Board specified that during the state disaster emergency, injured workers are not required to demonstrate labor market attachment to continue receiving partial disability payments.
On June 23, 2021, Governor Cuomo mandated that the state emergency would expire on June 24, due to New York State’s success in ensuring vaccinations of eligible adults and consistently declining hospitalization and positivity rates.
As of August 16, 2021, the Board is once again permitting carriers and other payers to raise the issue of labor market attachment in workers’ compensation claims since the state disaster emergency is no longer ongoing.
What does this mean for partially disabled claimants?
Partially disabled claimants who are obligated to demonstrate attachment should make efforts to attach to the labor market as soon as practical! This means: Partially disabled claimants will be required to demonstrate a good faith, independent job search, or participation in job placement or vocational rehabilitation, that is appropriate given the current Covid-19 infection rate and resulting limitations in mobility.
- Partially disabled claimants may take advantage of the Department of Labor’s Workforce services once the DOL is re-opened to the public.
- Such efforts should include use of online job placement and vocational rehabilitation services, as well as online and/or phone applications. Online and phone interviews should be accepted. In-person job searches are not presently required. When an employer is in compliance with local board of health guidance relating to business operations in the state, a job offer may not be refused solely because it requires in-person attendance at work.
When determining issues relating to labor market attachment, the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge will take into account the special circumstances each claimant faces, including ongoing challenges that continue for job searches, job placement, and vocational rehabilitation. The Board will apply a standard that is mindful of the statewide Covid-19 infection rate and resulting limitations in mobility.
If you have questions or need additional information on labor market attachment and how it might affect your benefits, you can call The Disability Guys at 1-866-205-2415 or email us at [email protected]