By Judge Dale Tipps, Murfreesboro
Some good news for the new year – this isn’t a post about CMS or MSA approvals!
Instead, let’s talk about other aspects of settlement procedures.
As you know all too well, the process varies from office to office. This is due to differences in staffing and facilities, the traditional approach for the various regions of the state, and the personal preferences of the individual judge.
Anyway, let’s start with the basics.
But some rules are “immutable, as a stone flying through the air, perhaps?” (That’s an old crossword clue – see if you can puzzle it out).
- We must have the $150 filing fee before you can go before the judge. This is a somewhat recent change for some of us, but we appreciate how responsive the bar has been in making this adjustment.
- Please make sure the first report of injury has already been filed by the carrier. We can’t schedule the settlement until the first report is on file electronically.
- All settlements are heard in person unless the parties request permission for a settlement by affidavit in writing and show good cause. See Rule 0800-02-21-.23(7). If permission is granted, the judge will normally expect to have the employee who signed the affidavit participate by phone.
- Use the most current settlement templates, found here And, as we’ve said in the past, please don’t modify the template any more than necessary for the facts of your settlement.
Now, a few words about SD-2s. The English writer and naturalist Gerald Durrell once described himself as the “champion of small uglies.” We have our own small ugly at the Bureau: form SD-2.
These forms are used by the Bureau to provide statutorily-required statistics to the legislature (don’t blame us). Not surprisingly, it’s important that the forms are complete and accurate. You can find comprehensive directions and common injury codes at SD-2 Instructions.
But here are some problems we often have to ask the parties to correct.
- The figures in the agreement and the SD-2 must match. One final proofing would go a long way to reducing these errors.
- The SD-2 should reflect the benefits due to the claimant, whether past or current payments. So, when there is a deduction from the permanent partial disability award for overpayment of temporary disability benefits, please use the full permanent disability amount on the second page of the SD-2 and take the deduction out of the applicable temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits. In other words, the SD-2 should show the correct permanent partial and temporary total disability benefits owed, not the amounts as they were actually paid. If the permanent partial disability settlement amount is being reduced because of the overpayment, you can write that in the “Amount of Settlement Paid in Lump Sum” line on the SD-2.
- In settlements that modify a previously-approved settlement, such as closing medicals or settling increased benefits, only include the new money being paid on the SD-2. If you have the amount of medical benefits paid since the original settlement, you should include that figure on the new SD-2.
- Please don’t write explanatory notes on the SD-2 Form, as our data entry personnel can’t enter them.
To close, we appreciate your adherence to these rules and procedures. Your approval will proceed quickly and seamlessly if you’ve kept the above advice in mind before heading out to your next one.