Date of Manifestation

What is a date of manifestation, and why does it matter? To answer that, I have to back up just a little bit.
There are two types of workers compensation claims, industrial injury claims and occupational disease claims. An industrial injury is defined as a ‘sudden and tangible happening, of a traumatic nature, producing an immediate or prompt result’. This is a specific incident, and usually has an obvious date of injury. The injured worker fell off that ladder, picked up that heavy box or stepped in that hole, and felt immediately that something was injured. The date of injury is the specific date the incident occurred. The date of injury is used as the start date for the work related injury claim, the date benefits and medical treatment will be covered.
Occupational disease claims are a bit fuzzier. An occupational disease is ‘such disease or infection as arises naturally and proximately out of employment’. The classic example is a worker who performs some repetitive activity at work, which over time results in a medical condition. For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome from constant keyboarding, or a bum left knee from jumping out of the truck cab. We still need a start date for the claim, but there is not one specific day or incident which caused the condition. In occupational disease claims the start date for the claim is called the date of manifestation. For such claims the date of manifestation is the date the disease requires medical treatment or becomes totally or partially disabling, whichever occurs first. The date the claim is actually filed does not matter. In broad brush strokes, we look for the first date the worker went to a medical provider for treatment of the condition or first missed work because of the condition.
Why do you care about the date of manifestation? It will be the date used to set the schedule of benefits, and will be the earliest date for payment of benefits and medical coverage for the condition. You want to make sure all related medical bills are covered and that you are compensated for anytime you missed from work due to the condition, so it matters what date is used and that it is accurate.
The order issued by the department which allows the claim or which assigns responsibility between multiple employers will have the date of manifestation being used by the department. If you believe this date is incorrect you have a 60 day window to request reconsideration or file an appeal. Sometimes this is an easy issue to resolve, but sometimes there is an aggressive employer pushing for a date of manifestation which is less advantageous to the worker. If that’s the case, you should get legal assistance well within the 60 day appeal period to make sure your interest are protected.

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