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Q: I've received a notice that I have to report for an IRE? What is an IRE? Will this affect my WC Benefits?

An Impairment Rating Evaluation is a medical examination after which an independent medical doctor will find a total body impairment associated with an injured worker's disability. The insurance company can send an injured worker for an IRE after the injured worker has collected WC benefits for a period of two years. If the examining doctor determines that the injured worker is at maximum medical improvement, the impairment rating will then be used to determine if the injured worker can collect wage loss benefits indefinitely or if a cap will be placed on the collection of benefits. If the examining doctor finds that the injured worker suffers from less than 50 percent total body impairment, the insurance company will then likely petition a Workers' Compensation Judge to modify the injured worker's benefits. This modification does not deal with the amount of weekly or biweekly benefits, it simply puts a cap on future benefits. If the injured worker's benefits are modified, the worker can collect WC wage loss benefits for a maximum of 500 weeks (or around 9.6 years) from the date of the finding of the impairment rating.

If the injured worker is not at Maximum Medical Improvement, and has a treating doctor who will state the same, he or she can fight the finding of the impairment rating doctor and possibly keep the Workers' Compensation Judge from modifying future wage loss benefits.

If you have been scheduled for an IRE in Central Pennsylvania, it is important to know your rights and know what is at stake. Contact Schmidt Kramer for a free consultation.