APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G104513.
Gary Davis, for appellant.
Mayton, Newkirk & Jones, by: Mike Stiles, for appellees.
M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and BROWN, J., agree.
M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge
Anthony Lewis appeals from an order of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission allowing the appellee-employer a credit or setoff, against its obligation to pay compensation benefits, in an amount equal to that which had previously been paid to appellant under a separate group-disability policy paid for by appellee. He contends that the Commission erred in its interpretation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-411 (Repl. 2012), the statute governing such setoffs. We affirm.
Appellant suffered a compensable injury to his back on April 22, 2011, while employed by appellee. The claim was accepted by appellee, and appellant was paid temporary-total disability benefits, representing the time from May 17, 2011, through the end of his healing period, August 3, 2012. Thereafter, consistent with the ten-percent anatomical disability rating assigned by his surgeon, appellant was paid permanent-partial disability benefits for the forty-five weeks between the end of his healing period and June 24, 2013. Appellee controverted appellant's claim to
entitlement to wage-loss disability benefits in excess of the impairment rating.
On November 13, 2013, appellant first informed appellee that he had received disability benefits from Sun Life Financial under a group-disability policy paid for by appellee. Those benefits were separate from the workers' compensation benefits and were paid between May 24, 2011, and August 22, 2013. The Sun Life payments totaled over $14,000. In light of the revelation about appellant's receipt of the Sun Life benefits, appellee sought a credit or setoff pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-411 against any remaining liability that it might have to appellant for workers' compensation benefits. That statute provides in pertinent part as follows:
(a)(1) Any benefits payable to an injured worker under this chapter shall be reduced in an amount equal to, dollar-for-dollar, the amount of benefits the injured worker has previously received for the same medical services or period of disability, whether those benefits were paid under a group health care service plan of whatever form or nature, a group disability policy, a group loss of income policy, a group accident, health, or accident and health policy, a self-insured employee health or welfare benefit plan, or a group hospital or medical service contract.
(2) The reduction specified in subdivision (a)(1) of this section does not apply to any benefit received from a group policy for disability if the injured worker has paid for the policy.
(b) The claimant shall be required to disclose in a manner to be determined by the Workers' Compensation Commission the identity, address, or phone number of any person or entity which has paid benefits described in this ...