Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 2781 16
S. Netten
  • Disc, degeneration
  • Pensions (reassessment)

The worker suffered a low back injury in 1981. The Board granted the worker a 15% pension in 1991. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying a pension reassessment for deterioration of his condition.

The Board had originally denied a pension, finding that symptoms were related to non-compensable osteoarthritis at L4-5 and L5-S1. However, in 1991, the Hearings Officer found that entitlement included the findings at L4-5 and L5-S1, noting the report of the Board's medical advisor that the worker had mechanical back pain caused by extensive degeneration at L5-S1 and moderate degeneration at L4-5. That decision of the Hearings Officer was followed when the pension was granted, and has not been appealed. Thus, it has been accepted that the degenerative changes at L4-5 and L5-S1 were compensable.
Based on the medical evidence, the Vice-Chair found that the compensable degenerative pathology at L4-5 has permanently worsened. The worker previously had compensable facet osteoarthritis, he now has degenerative spondylolisthesis at that level, likely resulting from the facet joint degenerative change. However, the evidence did not establish worsening at L5-S1, which was already reported in 1991 as gross degeneration.
The worker was entitled to the pension reassessment. The appeal was allowed.