Response time limit on Requests for Reconsideration

Author Subject: Response time limit on Requests for Reconsideration
Joannie B. Posted At 02:58:59 03/18/2000
I have uncovered a little known fact about the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals position regarding a time limit that LNI must abide by when an injured worker submits a timely Request for Reconsideration (protest) filed in response to an order that contains language inviting the filing of such. That is when the blurb at the bottom of the order says "This order will become final 60 days after you receive it unless you file a written Request for Reconsideration within that time..." The Board ruled in the case of Clarence Haugen, Docket No. 91 1687, that the Department must respond to any timely request within the limits imposed in the fifth proviso to RCW 51.52.060 (i.e., within 90 days or up to an additional 90 days for good cause stated in writing).

This is a question that I submitted to the Right to Know Dept., The Claim Manager, The CM Supervisor and the Legal Department of the Department of Labor and Industries, "Is there a time limit on the departments Response to a request for Reconsideration?" Every one of them told me there was "NO LIMIT". I submitted the Haugen decision as my basis for the belief that there was a limit, and was still told that I was mistaken. I finally wrote to the Secretary of the Board of Industrial Insurance appeals and asked if a decision such as the Haugen one was considered the Boards position on all future cases like it. He answered that the 90 + 90 decision was their ruling in all appeals regarding excessive time taken by LNI. However, when the claimant files an appeal because the department has failed to respond, there is no basis to accept the appeal because there has been no order entered yet, they must reject the appeal and simply instruct the department to enter an order in answere to the RFR immediately. Also, there is "no remedy" for the departments failure to abide by the Boards prior decision, as in most situations where LNI doesn't do what it is supposed to, there is no penalty for their actions.

The good news is, contrary to what an attorney or any personel affiliated with LNI will tell you, you do have a way to get an answer to a RFR within a specific amount of time. I suggest you prepare the Appeal after 70 to 80 days have passed since the department received the RFR (send it return reciept requested so you have documentation of the date it was received). The department will not request the additional 90 days, in writing, as required since that would show there is a time limit. Mail the Appeal to the Board of Industrial Appeals on the 90th day, you should have a response within 1-2 weeks, and they will send the letter to LNI telling them to file the order immediately.

I know it seems like alot of crap to go through, but the sad truth is, it is one of the only ways to get them to do what the law says they are supposed to, or what the Board has ruled, was the "intent of the law". At least it doesn't cost you the 30% an attorney does!

Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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