June 26, 2019

Maine WC Alert: New Legislation Brings Procedural Changes, Benefit Modifications

Maine Workers' Comp Alert

LD 756 (“An Act To Improve the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992”), was signed into law by Governor Mills on June 17, 2019. LD 756 has an effective date of September 17, 2019. Most provisions apply to injuries on or after January 1, 2020. The following are key provisions of the new legislation.

Benefit Modifications

Maximum Benefit Rate (§ 211)
For dates of injury on or after 1/1/20, the maximum benefit rate increases to 125% of the state average weekly wage (SAWW).

Under current law, for injuries on or after 1/1/13, the maximum benefit rate is 100% of the SAWW.

Fringe Benefits (§ 102(4)(H))
For dates of injury on or after 1/1/20, employer-paid fringe benefits that do not continue must be included to calculate the compensation rate to a maximum of 2/3 of 125% of the SAWW.

Current law limits compensation rate adjustments for discontinued fringe benefits to a maximum of 2/3 of 100% of the SAWW.

Cost of Living Adjustment for Total Incapacity Benefits (§ 212(4))
For dates of injury on or after 1/1/20, in which § 212 total incapacity benefits are paid, after 260 weeks the total compensation rate is subject to an annual cost of living adjustment which may not exceed the maximum compensation rate.

Current law does not provide for cost of living adjustments other than to the maximum rate when payable.

Durational Limit on Partial Incapacity Benefits (§ 213)
For dates of injury on or after 1/1/20, an employee is not eligible to receive partial compensation after receiving 624 weeks (12 years) of benefits under §212, §213, or both. There may be an extension of benefits only for extreme financial hardship. 

Death Benefits (§ 215)
If death results from an injury on or after 1/1/20 and the employee has no dependents, death benefits must be paid to the employee’s parents during their lifetime, up to 500 weeks. “Parents” may be natural or adoptive, so long as parental rights were not terminated. For work-related deaths without dependents from 1/1/19 to 1/1/20, death benefits otherwise payable to the State are to be paid to the parents.

Procedural Changes

Time for Payment of Benefits (§ 205(2))
Effective 9/17/19 the requirement to pay benefits within 14 days of notice or knowledge of the injury is tolled if the first payment cannot be made due to an act of God, mistake of fact or unavoidable circumstances.

Penalties relating to timeliness of benefit payments (§ 205(2))
Effective 9/17/19, in the absence of filing a timely Notice of Controversy, the penalty for failure to pay within 14 days is limited to $50.00 per day for each day late over 30 days, capped at $1,500.00. The amendment to § 205 provides: “Further consequences” of a failure to make timely payment are specifically not a subject for rulemaking.

Investigation period (§ 205(2))
Effective 9/17/19, if payment of incapacity benefits without prejudice is initiated, by filing a Notice of Controversy within 45 days of first knowledge or notice, payment of incapacity benefits may be discontinued. After 45 days, benefits may be discontinued or reduced only with 21 day notice and the filing of a WCB-8.

Paid Time Off (§ 221)
Effective 9/17/19, the after-tax value of paid time off may be offset against the compensation otherwise due.

Notice (§ 301)
For dates of injury on or after 1/1/20, notice of the injury must be given within 60 days.

Firm Highlights


Maine Workers' Comp Alert: Areas of Consideration Due to COVID-19

This alert addresses certain areas of concern with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and Maine Workers’ Compensation. This alert touches upon new issues to consider, issues of concern for existing claims, and general concerns...


Maine WC Appellate Division Addresses Refusal of Suitable Work and Notice

The Maine Workers' Compensation Appellate Division recently addressed cases dealing with refusal of suitable work and notice. Both decisions rely heavily on the specific facts of each case. In the context of a refusal...


Update on COVID-19 and Maine Workers' Compensation

In this uncertain time, Preti Flaherty wants to assure you we are still providing full coverage for your Maine Workers’ Compensation and Longshore legal needs. This update briefly addresses current laws and also touches...


Maine WC Alert: MAE Unit Publishes Guidance on Compliance with Recent Amendments

The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board’s Monitoring, Audit & Enforcement Unit has issued a document to provide guidance on complying with certain recent amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act in P.L. 2019, c. 344 (LD...


Maine Workers' Comp Alert: WCB Announces New Nature and Cause of Injury Codes and FAQ for COVID-19

New Nature & Cause of Injury Codes The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has updated the Injury Description Tables that are used by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) to...


Maine Workers' Comp Alert: WCB Transition to In-Person Hearings Likely to Occur No Sooner Than August 2020; Section 312 IME’s Have Resumed

A conference with Maine Workers' Compensation Board Executive Director John Rohde was held last week to discuss the transition to in-person hearings at the WCB. The WCB Subcommittees also met to discuss recent developments...


Maine WC Alert: WCB Orders Remote Hearings Unless In-Person Deemed Necessary

COVID-19 Concerns Prompt Maine WCB to Order That Hearings Be Conducted Remotely Unless It Is Deemed Necessary to Conduct a Hearing In-Person On March 25, 2020, the Maine WCB issued an order regarding the...


WC Alert: Recent Developments from Maine's Workers' Compensation Board

Frank A. Graf, MD, Reappointed to Approved List of § 312 Examiners At the February 11 meeting of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board, Frank Graf, MD, was reappointed to the list of approved § 312...


Maine WC Alert: Updated Version of Notice of Controversy (WCB-9) Must Be Used Effective February 1, 2020

Following the recent statutory changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act, the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board has updated the language in Box 22 of the Notice of Controversy. This new version should be used as...