Supreme Court Upholds Workers’ Comp Changes

The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld changes to the state’s workers’ compensation law. The opinion follows a challenge to House Bill 2, a KLC initiative legislators passed in the 2018 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

The measure ensured that employees on temporary total disability (TTD) who return to work on modified duty have wages credited against their workers’ compensation benefits. Some Kentucky cities had experienced higher medical costs associated with outdated aspects of the law.

In a unanimous decision, the court also sided with appeals court rulings that found constitutional provisions of the 2018 law that terminated workers’ compensation income benefits when the recipient reached age 70 or four years from the date of injury or last injurious exposure, whichever event occurs first.

Chief Justice John Minton wrote, “In both cases, panels of the Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the statute’s age classification on equal protection grounds as being rationally related to a legitimate state interest in preventing workers’ compensation income-benefits recipients from receiving duplicate payments in the form of retirement benefits. The panels also rejected the special legislation challenges to the statute, holding that the statute treated all older income-benefits recipients alike.”

Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) sponsored House Bill 2 and stressed at the time that the measure “did not limit medical benefits for those employees who are deemed permanently totally disabled by an administrative court judge.”

In testifying in support of the bill during the 2018 session, KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney emphasized that the legislation put Kentucky in line with other states. “This goes to the core about what workers’ compensation was meant to be,” he stated during a February 2018 hearing of the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee.

Access the Supreme Court decision here.