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Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Workers' compensation -- New legislation enacted in response to Ekdahl, Hartwig

New legislation, effective May 31, 2017, was recommended by the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council in response to issues raised by the Minnesota Supreme Court's 2014 decisions in Ekdahl v. Independent School District #213, et al., 851 N.W.2d 874 and Hartwig v. Traverse Care center, et al., 852 N.W.2d 251. In these cases, the Supreme Court decided that the workers' compensation law does not allow permanent total disability (PTD) benefits to be reduced by the employee's government retirement benefits (other than Social Security retirement benefits). The new law will be codified as Minnesota Statutes § 176.1292. (2017 Minn. Laws, ch. 94, art. 4.)

Update July 31, 2017

How the law applies

The new law applies to:

  • injured workers with dates of injury before Aug. 13, 2014, (or their dependents and legal heirs) whose permanent total disability benefits were offset by government retirement benefits other than Social Security; and

  • payers that reduced PTD benefits by the injured worker's non-Social-Security government retirement benefits before Aug. 13, 2014.

The new law does not apply to:

  • injured workers whose last PTD benefits were paid before Jan. 1, 2000;

  • dependents and legal heirs of deceased injured workers who died before Jan. 1, 2008; and

  • injured workers where a court allowed the retirement offset or where a court-approved stipulation for settlement explicitly allowed the retirement offset or closed out all workers' compensation benefits (however, the new law does not prevent non-covered injured workers, dependents and legal heirs from pursuing claims for additional PTD benefits based on the decisions).

What the new law provides

The new law provides additional PTD benefits for injured workers and Special Compensation Fund (SCF) relief for payers.

If a payer pays all of the covered employees, dependents and legal heirs additional past and future PTD benefits (without the retirement offset) by the dates specified in the new law:

  • SCF will reimburse the payer for supplementary benefits paid before Aug. 13, 2014; and

  • the payer will receive relief from paying SCF assessments on the additional PTD benefits paid due to removal of the retirement offset.

Consequences for failure to pay additional PTD benefits

If a payer elects not to pay additional PTD benefits to its injured workers, dependents and legal heirs under the new law, the payer is:

  • not entitled to the supplementary benefit reimbursement and assessment relief noted above;

  • subject to litigation brought by injured workers for additional PTD benefits owed; and

  • subject to penalties assessed by DLI or a compensation judge (depending on the facts) based on the court decisions.

More information

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