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A Limitation of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Revisory Powers

Maryland
September 12, 2019
August 22, 2019
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A case from the Court of Special Appeals confirms the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission may not retroactively adjust the rate of compensation of an award previously paid.  In Montgomery County vs. Gang the court found that Mr. Gang, a public safety officer, received an award of permanent partial disability benefits in 2012 based on an incorrect rate of pay.  In 2016, nearly four years after the original award, claimant attempted to remedy the rate of pay by filing a Request for Document Correction with the commission.  He filed the Request for Document Correction without the consent of the employer/insurer. The commission then issued an amended award retroactively increasing the rate of pay.  In response, the employer/insurer requested a rehearing. Ultimately, the commission granted the rehearing, but affirmed its prior decision to allow the increase under the “continuing jurisdiction” provision of the act.

The employer/insurer appealed the matter to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County where argument focused on the interpretation of the commission’s revisory powers under the act, to “readjust for future application the rate of compensation.”  The court affirmed the decision of the commission and the employer/insurer appealed the decision to the Court of Special Appeals.

The Court of Special Appeals reversed the circuit court’s decision, highlighting that the commission’s change to the rate of compensation was not based on statutory considerations such as aggravation or diminution.  Instead, it was an adjustment of an award previously paid and, as such, beyond the commission’s revisory powers.  Allowing the same, in addition to improperly extending the statute, would also serve to impermissibly extend the five-year statute of limitations on re-openings.

This decision makes clear that if there is an error in an award, the request for correction must be done so within a reasonable time period.  The commission’s revisory powers are limited and not all encompassing.  This decision is also a reminder that a Request for Document Correction is only to be used when the “correction” is agreed upon by all parties.