Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 3380 17
W. Sutton - V. Phillips - D. Broadbent
  • Disc, degeneration
  • Significant contribution (of compensable accident to subsequent disability)
  • Permanent impairment {NEL} (rating schedule) (AMA Guides)
  • Permanent impairment {NEL} (degree of impairment) (fasciitis) (plantar)

The worker suffered a low back injury in August 1999, for which the Board granted the worker a 14% NEL award. In May 2011, the worker underwent a facet neurotomy. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the procedure in 2011.

The Board found that the procedure was related to non-compensable degenerative disc disease. The worker submitted that the accident made the previously asymptomatic degenerative disc disease symptomatic and that, accordingly, she required the procedure in 2011 as a result of the compensable accident. In support of this position, the worker referred to the NEL assessment, which, she argued, included a 5% component for degenerative changes.
The worker was relying on Table 53(II) of the AMA guides, which refers to degenerative changes. However, the Panel agreed with the interpretation of this Table in Decision No. 2170/17I, that the words referred to describe the condition of the spine upon which the soft tissue injury is imposed but that the rating is for the soft tissue injury. The Panel concluded that the reference to degenerative disc disease in Table 53(II) does not stand for the proposition that the degenerative disc disease is compensable.
The worker did not have entitlement for the procedure in 2011. The appeal was dismissed.