State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety and Compensation Div. v. Gerdes
In State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety and Compensation Div. v. Gerdes, 951 P.2d 1170 (Wyo. 1997), the employee sustained a work-related injury in November 1993. Gerdes, 951 P.2d at 1172.
The employee promptly filed TTD certifications and the Division approved the benefits from the time of her injury until June 7, 1995. Id.
In June 1995, the Division terminated TTD benefits because, in its opinion, the employee had reached maximum medical improvement. Id.
The employee appealed this determination. Id. While the appeal was pending, the employee failed to re-certify for TTD benefits. Id. at 1173.
The OAH determined that the employee had not reached maximum medical improvement and, despite the employee's noncompliance with the re-certification requirements, awarded the employee retroactive benefits for the time during which the appeal had been pending. Id.
The Court affirmed the OAH's ruling and held that Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-404(d) allows an award of retroactive TTD benefits despite noncompliance with the statute during the pendency of an appeal regarding the termination of TTD benefits. Id. at 1175.
In so holding, the Court noted that Wyo. Stat. Ann. 27-14-404(d) is silent regarding whether its procedural requirements "apply after benefits are terminated and the claimant awaits a contested case hearing." Id. at 1174.
The Court examined the legislative purpose served by the procedural requirements for certification and determined that they exist to allow the Division an opportunity to effectively monitor entitlement to TTD benefits. Id.
The Court held that the requirements did not apply to the period following a termination of TTD benefits, because "no number of filings or certifications will reinstate the benefits or allow the claim to be heard on its merits." Id.
The Court stated that a strict application of the statute was unnecessary because it "would serve only to burden a claimant with the attendant costs of continued certification, even though the Division has predetermined that these costs are not compensable." Id. at 1175.