by Kenneth A. David, Esq.

The Board form WC-104 is used to reduce a claimant’s benefits from TTD to the maximum TPD rate ($334 now and soon to be $350 for all accidents as of July 1, 2013). To start the process of reduction, a claimant must be on TTD and then released to light duty. Then the claimant must be on light duty for 1 year continuously or 1.5 years total before you can reduce. Therefore, the key is getting a light duty release.

An employer does not need to have a job available; in fact the WC-104 is used when there is not a light duty job available. Furthermore, there is no requirement as to the specifics of the light duty release. It just must be some form of light duty. So as long as a clamant is not completely disabled from doing anything, you can prepare the WC-104. It is a rare circumstance when a doctor would, if pressed, state that the claimant cannot perform any function at all. Can the claimant sit in a chair? Or stand at a desk? Answer the phone? Some doctors want to see a job description. That is fine. You can prepare a job description to get the light duty release but you have no obligation to actually offer the job.

Usually when a claimant is reduced to TPD there is an interest in settlement. When the WC-104 takes effect it also caps the claimant at 350 weeks of benefits instead of 400 weeks of benefits, which is still a lot of benefits but the reality is that the claimant is being notified he is getting less. Any time you can do that, you gain leverage and increase your ability to close the claim.