Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions
- Chronic pain
- Psychotraumatic disability
- Work transition plan (adequacy of program)
A personal support worker suffered a shoulder injury in 2005, for which she was granted a 16% NEL award. The Board identified an SO as a paralegal. On completion of the training program, the Board found that the worker was capable of restoring her pre-injury earnings and that, accordingly, she was not entitled to further LOE benefits. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for psychotraumatic disability or chronic pain disability, and denying ongoing LOE benefits. In considering entitlement for psychotraumatic disability or chronic pain disability, it is necessary to determine the predominant nature of the disability. An injury is characterized as chronic pain disability if the nature of the disability is most closely associated with pain, which cannot be attributed to organic causes. If the nature of the disability is most closely associated with a psychiatric diagnosis that is distinct from the worker's pain, then it is generally compensated as a psychotraumatic disability. Psychotraumatic disability should not be viewed simply as an alternative to chronic pain disability as the criteria for entitlement are quite distinct. Entitlement for chronic pain disability is not limited to pain symptoms. Individuals who suffer from chronic pain disability often have co-existing psychological conditions. In this case, the worker's non-organic disability was characterized by a pain disorder. The worker had entitlement for chronic pain disability. The worker submitted that the work transition services provided by the Board were not adequate because the college which the worker attended to obtain his diploma did not have a good reputation and, as a result, the worker was not able to find work in the SO. However, the Vice-Chair found no evidence of significance that the worker was unable to obtain work due to the college she attended. The worker's submission was based on rumours rather than information from potential employers. There was no objective evidence to support the worker's submission. There was also no evidence of significance that the worker made reasonable efforts to find work in the SO. The worker was not entitled to further LOE benefits. The appeal was allowed in part.