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EEOICPA Impairment Rating and COVID-19

EEOICPA Impairment Rating and COVID-19

You may be aware of impairment awards under EEOICPA. If you’re not, it is financial compensation for the permanent loss of function of a body part or organ because of an illness that is covered under EEOICPA. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Labor has made minor adjustments, and impairment doctors have adjusted their standards for impairment evaluations that take the pandemic into consideration. Here we clarify one alternative method of testing that many impairment doctors are turning to.

COVID-19

As the world collectively deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on our everyday lives, claimants are also being met with difficulties when trying to provide the records needed for their impairment evaluation. Medical practices and hospitals are limiting patient visits. In turn, it’s encouraged that patients stay home and only see their physicians in cases of emergency or continuing treatment.

How does COVID-19 impact EEOICPA impairment ratings?

Some claimants eligible for an impairment rating are having difficulties providing the updated medical records needed for their evaluations. Pre-COVID, the qualified physicians doing the evaluation required recent office exam notes, pulmonary function tests, progress notes, etc. depending on the accepted illness. While they are now making exceptions, some claimants are still having difficulties. For example, if accepted for a lung condition, the restrictions make it difficult to submit a recent pulmonary function test.

Due to concern over pulmonary function testing being potentially high-risk for COVID-19 transmission, medical offices and hospitals are limiting testing to only the most essential. Chronic lung conditions also put you more at risk for the virus. It is crucial that these claimants take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the virus. That means staying at home and avoiding doctor’s offices and hospitals if you can. A possible way around this restriction is a six-minute walk test.

The Six-Minute Walk Test

Many impairment doctors are now accepting the results of a six-minute walk test in place of a pulmonary function test. This assessment is similar to that of an exercise test but more applicable to the activities of daily life. But what does this test include?

  • This test measures the distance that a patient can quickly walk on a flat, hard surface in 6 minutes.
  • It does not require much equipment and technicians who perform the test don’t require too much training.
  • In some cases, you may not even have to leave your home. For instance, if you have home health care and a nurse frequently visits your home, they should be able to perform this test for you.
  • The 6-minute walk test allows claimants to avoid postponing their impairment evaluation. It also gives them the chance at a more accurate evaluation, which hopefully means a higher rating.

Please contact our attorney, Hugh Stephens directly at (716) 208-3525 with any questions you have regarding EEOICPA impairment ratings and COVID-19. Our team can also explain if the six-minute walk test is right for you in your own impairment evaluation.

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