Appellate Division Rules that Section 15(3)(v) Awards Subject to Same Cap on Benefits as 15(3)(w) Awards
On 6/29/17, the Appellate Division, Third Department, decided Mancini v. Office of Children and Family Services. This decision is notable for two reasons. First, the court explicitly held that payments under WCL §15(3)(v) are subject to the statutory cap on awards set forth in WCL §15(3)(w). A loss of wage earning capacity (LWEC) finding must be made by the Board, as in classification cases, to set the length of the capped awards. Second, the court affirmed a finding by the Board that the cap on §15(3)(v) awards does not begin until the date when the Board makes a LWEC finding, rather than the date on which claimant’s schedule loss of use award allocation ends.
For context, WCL §15(3)(v) allows claimants with a greater than 50% schedule loss of use award for certain injuries to request additional payments after the schedule loss of use award allocation expires. Claimants seeking §15(3)(v) awards must prove compliance with various criteria. The language of §15(3)(v) specifically references WCL §15(3)(w) for payment of the additional benefits. For quite some time, our office has taken the position that this means benefits under WCL §15(3)(v) should be capped, and the Court has now confirmed this.
The two takeaways from this decision are that WCL §15(3)(v) awards are subject to the statutory caps in WCL §15(3)(w), and the cap on awards begins effective the date of the loss of wage earning capacity finding by the Board once a claimant makes a successful §15(3)(v) claim.