Ohio Supreme Court Addresses Receipt of Permanent Partial Disability After Finding of Permanent Total Disability

The Ohio Supreme Court was faced with an appellate court decision upholding the Industrial Commission’s award of permanent partial disability to a claimant who had previously been found to be permanently and totally disabled (PTD). State ex rel. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Servs., Inc. v. Indus. Comm., 150 Ohio St.3d 102.

The claimant in this case had been receiving PTD benefits based solely on the allowed psychological condition in her workers’ compensation claim. She subsequently applied for permanent partial disability benefits based on the physical conditions allowed in the same claim.   The Industrial Commission determined that the claimant was not barred from receiving permanent partial disability for conditions that formed no part of the basis for a prior finding of PTD.  The employer filed a complaint in the Tenth District Court of Appeals seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Commission to vacate its order.  The Court of Appeals denied the writ.

The Supreme Court of Ohio, however, reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court first noted that there is statutory authority authorizing concurrent payment of permanent partial disability and PTD compensation.  The Supreme Court also emphasized that Ohio case law does not support this type of concurrent payment.  It was concluded that the Industrial Commission lacks authority to award permanent partial disability compensation while a claimant is receiving PTD compensation in the same claim.

This decision provides valuable guidance to employers faced with permanent partial disability applications from claimants receiving PTD compensation in the same claim. The Supreme Court of Ohio makes it clear that the Industrial Commission has no authority to grant such an application, even when it is based on conditions which were not part of the PTD decision.  Very recently, the Supreme Court of Ohio agreed to reconsider the case, heard oral argument, and adhered to its original holding.  Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-7577.

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