The WSIB will no longer reduce non-economic loss and permanent disability benefits for most people with claims for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who also have a smoking history. In some cases, we may still consider a pre-existing condition caused by smoking when determining non-economic loss or permanent disability benefits.
We will also reconsider all decisions made on or after April 20, 2016, where we reduced non-economic loss or permanent disability benefits for people with COPD claims due to smoking.
We commissioned the review and clinical opinion to help us decide whether we should continue to reduce non-economic loss and permanent disability benefits for people with COPD claims who have a history of smoking. The review and clinical opinion found that more recent evidence suggests that the interaction between smoking and occupational exposures on the development of COPD is more complex than earlier WSIB reviews have shown.
What does this mean for you?
If you received a decision on your claim on or after April 20, 2016 that your non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit for COPD would be reduced by a smoking offset, we will automatically reconsider the decision. This means your non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit may increase.
There will be no change for smoking offset decisions made before April 20, 2016.
What do you need to do?
People with current claims for COPD or claims with decisions made on or after April 20, 2016 do not need to take any action.
If your non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit is changing, we will call you and send you a letter explaining the change.
Questions and answers
Why did you decide to review your practice of reducing benefits for people with COPD who had a history of smoking?
We regularly review our practices to make sure we are applying them consistently and fairly. We also monitor Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) decisions to look for trends. We initiated our review in response to an observed trend in WSIAT decisions that found benefits should not be reduced to reflect the contribution of smoking to a COPD diagnosis.
Why are you only reviewing decisions made since April 20, 2016?
April 20, 2016 was when WSIAT began consistently reversing decisions to offset non-economic loss or permanent disability benefits to reflect the contribution of smoking in COPD claims.
How will I know if my claim is being reviewed? When will I be notified when an adjustment on my claim has been completed?
We will be in contact with everyone whose claim is being reviewed. Each claim is unique so this may take several weeks. You will receive a letter when the review is complete.
If my non-economic loss benefit changes, will this impact my loss-of-earnings benefit?
No. A non-economic loss benefit is separate from any loss of earnings you may be entitled to due to your work-related injury or illness.
What if the decision to reduce my non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit due to a history of smoking was made before April 20, 2016?
If the decision to reduce your non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit was made before April 20, 2016, your benefit will not change unless you objected to the decision by submitting an intent to object form within the six months of the date on the decision letter about your non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit.
Who should I call if I have questions or concerns?
Please call us at 1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and inform the telephone representative that you have questions about a non-economic loss or permanent disability benefit review for a COPD claim.