The new Oklahoma Administrative Workers' Compensation act will in many instances result in an elimination or massive reduction of benefits to injured workers
Temporary Total Disability benefits have been reduced under the new act. 85 OS 45(A)
TTD is limited to 104 weeks at 70% of the injured average weekly wage. One 52 weeks extension is allowed for a consequential injury upon showing of a medical necessity by clear and convincing evidence. This is a reduction of the maximum temporary total disability from 156 weeks under the present law to 104 weeks.
Under 85 OS 203-213 an employer may voluntarily elect to be exempt from the administrative Workers Compensation act and become a qualified employer. This selection is also referred to as "opt out" or the Oklahoma option. To make this selection the employer must notify their employees that they do not carry Worker's Compensation coverage and establish a written benefit plan for the payment of benefits.
The plan must provide for the same benefits as the Administrative Workers Compensation system taking effect on February 1, 2014.
Under this new opt out system, although medical benefits must be provided, arguably the plan may limit the duration of medical services and reimbursement for healthcare services under 85 OS 50. There is also a question of whether this benefit plan will be preempted under the ER1SA statutes. This promises to be a very confusing and complicated part of the new law.
Any employer may decide to opt out of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation system and design their own benefit plan. While the language of the statute says the benefits should be at least equal, to the benefits provided by the new Workers' Compensation administrative act, there are enough ambiguities and unknowns about the new law that could result in less benefits being paid to the injured employee.
Source: Art Adams