Hello and Happy New Year’s wishes to our friends, clients, and colleagues in the workers’ compensation claims community! F&B is proud to publish the 100th edition of our “60 Second Seminar” series of workers’ compensation educational blogs, providing practical, succinct, and timely information for use by insurers, claims administrators, employers, and brokers! It is also our first blog of the new year and therefore, it is only fitting that we focus on the new workers’ compensation laws of 2024.
Whenever a new year arrives we always start with off with a review of the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), as the COLA is used to determine our new maximum and minimum TD rates. It also impacts life pensions and 100% PTD rates as well. The COLA is based on the State’s Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) of a California employee as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor for the period ending March 31st. Whatever percentage the SAWW increased by over the prior year automatically increases comp benefits by the same percentage. However, should the SAWW decrease, then benefit rates remain unchanged. For the past 11 years the SAWW has steadily increased, but this year the SAWW decreased by $9.00 or -0.5452%. Consequently, there is no change in TD, life pension or PTD benefit rates in 2024. All benefits remain unchanged.
Also, there are four new laws in workers’ compensation in 2024, described as follows:
- AB 489 extends by one year the trial period for issuing and using debit cards to pay indemnity benefits. The sunset date of this law is now 1/1/25.
- SB 623 expands the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumption of compensability to include firefighters for the:
a. Dept of State Hospitals
b. The State Department of Developmental Services
c. The Military Department
d. The Department of Veterans Affairs
This bill also adds public safety dispatchers, public safety telecommunicators, emergency response communication employees and their supervisors to be eligible for the PTSD presumption, effective 1/1/24. SB 623 sunsets on 1/1/32.
- AB 336 – Effective 7/1/24, requires contractors applying or renewing a license with the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) to not only identify their workers’ compensation insurer and policy number, but to also identify the class codes for their workers covered under the policy. Failure to comply will result in CSLB being prohibited from issuing or renewing a license.
- AB 621 – This bill changes existing law to allow state public safety officers to receive the same burial benefits provided to local public safety officers. PERS currently limits both state and local public safety officers to $1,000 burial expense but local public officers are entitled to a workers’ compensation supplemental burial expense of up to $9,000. This law will allow state public safety officers to also qualify for the supplemental payment up to $9,000 as well.
The most important change to occur in work comp is not associated with a new law, but instead is attributed to three COVID presumption statutes being repealed on 1/1/24. Any unfinalized COVID claim that was accepted based on a now repealed presumptive statute may no longer be compensable, even if benefits are currently being paid. We urge our readers who have existing COVID claims to contact F&B for details as our analysis of the COVID repealed laws is extremely detailed!