Ky. Rev. Stat. § 342.732

Current through 2021 Ky. Acts ch. 205, and 2021SP1 ch. 5
Section 342.732 - Income benefits and retraining incentive benefits for coal workers' pneumoconiosis - Referral to Office of Vocational Rehabilitation - Administrative regulations - Online portal
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, income benefits and retraining incentive benefits for occupational pneumoconiosis resulting from exposure to coal dust in the severance or processing of coal shall be paid as follows:
(a)
1. If an employee has a radiographic classification of category 1/0, 1/1 or 1/2, coal workers' pneumoconiosis and spirometric test values of eighty percent (80%) or more, the employee shall be awarded a one (1) time only retraining incentive benefit which shall be an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740, but not more than seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage, payable semimonthly for a period not to exceed one hundred four (104) weeks, except as provided in subparagraph 3. of this paragraph.
2. Except as provided in subparagraph 3. of this paragraph, these benefits shall be paid only while the employee is enrolled and actively and successfully participating as a full-time student taking the equivalent of twelve (12) or more credit hours per week in a bona fide training or education program that if successfully completed will qualify the person completing the course for a trade, occupation, or profession and which program can be completed within the period benefits are payable under this subsection. The program must be approved under administrative regulations to be promulgated by the commissioner. These benefits shall also be paid to an employee who is a part-time student taking not less than the equivalent of six (6) nor more than eleven (11) credit hours per week, except that benefits shall be an amount equal to thirty-three and one-third percent (33-1/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740, but not more than thirty-seven and one-half percent (37-1/2%) of the state average weekly wage, payable biweekly for a period not to exceed two hundred eight (208) weeks.
3. These benefits shall also be paid biweekly while an employee is actively and successfully pursuing a High School Equivalency Diploma in accordance with administrative regulations promulgated by the commissioner. These benefits shall be paid in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage for a maximum period not to exceed seventeen (17) weeks. These income benefits shall be in addition to the maximum amount of retraining incentive benefits payable under this paragraph.
4. The employer shall also pay, directly to the institution conducting the training or education program, instruction, tuition, and material costs not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000).
5. The employee shall notify the parties of his or her intention to retrain within thirty (30) days after the administrative law judge's order becomes final. The employee must initiate retraining within three hundred sixty-five (365) days of the administrative law judge's final order. Income benefits payable under subparagraphs 1. and 2. of this paragraph shall begin no later than thirty (30) days following conclusion of income benefits paid under subparagraph 3. if such benefits were paid.
6. If an employee who is awarded retraining incentive benefits under this paragraph successfully completes a bona fide training or education program approved by the commissioner, upon completion of the training or education program, the employer shall pay to that employee the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for successful completion of a program that requires a course of study of not less than twelve (12) months nor more than eighteen (18) months, or the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for successful completion of a program that requires a course of study of more than eighteen (18) months. This amount shall be in addition to retraining incentive benefits awarded under this paragraph, and tuition expenses paid by the employer.
7. An employee who is age fifty-seven (57) years or older on the date of last exposure and who is awarded retraining incentive benefits under subparagraphs 1. to 4. of this paragraph, may elect to receive in lieu of retraining incentive benefits, an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage, not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740 multiplied by the disability rating of twenty-five percent (25%) for a period not to exceed four hundred twenty-five (425) weeks, or until the employee reaches sixty-five (65) years of age, whichever occurs first, KRS 342.730(4) notwithstanding.
8. A claim for retraining incentive benefits provided under this section may be filed, but benefits shall not be payable, while an employee is employed in the severance or processing of coal as defined in KRS 342.0011(23).
9. If an employer appeals an award of retraining incentive benefits, upon an employee's motion, an administrative law judge may grant retraining incentive benefits pending appeal as interlocutory relief.
10. If an employee elects to defer payment of retraining incentive benefits for a period of retraining longer than three hundred sixty-five (365) days, benefits otherwise payable shall be reduced week-for-week for each week retraining benefits are further deferred;
(b)
1. If an employee has a radiographic classification of category 1/0, 1/1, or 1/2 coal workers' pneumoconiosis and respiratory impairment evidenced by spirometric test values of fifty-five percent (55%) or more but less than eighty percent (80%) of the predicted normal values, or category 2/1, 2/2, or 2/3 coal workers' pneumoconiosis and spirometric test values of eighty percent (80%) or more of the predicted normal values, there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that the employee has a disability rating of twenty-five percent (25%) resulting from exposure to coal dust, and the employee shall be awarded an income benefit which shall be an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage, but not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740 multiplied by the disability rating of twenty-five percent (25%). The award shall be payable for a period not to exceed four hundred twenty-five (425) weeks.
2. An employee who is awarded benefits under this paragraph may, at the time of the award or before benefit payments begin, elect to receive retraining incentive benefits provided under paragraph (a)1. to 6. of this subsection, in lieu of income benefits awarded under this paragraph, provided that such option is available one (1) time only and is not revocable, and provided that in no event shall income benefits payable under this paragraph be stacked or added to retraining incentive income benefits paid or payable under subparagraphs 1. to 6. of paragraph (a)1. to 6. of this subsection to extend the period of disability;
(c) If it is determined that an employee has a radiographic classification of category 1/0, 1/1, or 1/2, and respiratory impairment resulting from exposure to coal dust as evidenced by spirometric test values of less than fifty-five percent (55%) of the predicted normal values, or category 2/1, 2/2, or 2/3 coal workers' pneumoconiosis and respiratory impairment evidenced by spirometric test values of fifty-five percent (55%) or more but less than eighty percent (80%) of the predicted normal values, or category 3/2 or 3/3 coal workers' pneumoconiosis and spirometric test values of eighty percent (80%) or more, there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that the employee has a disability rating of fifty percent (50%) resulting from exposure to coal dust, and the employee shall be awarded an income benefit which shall be an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage but not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740 multiplied by the disability rating of fifty percent (50%). The award shall be payable for a period not to exceed four hundred twenty-five (425) weeks;
(d) If it is determined that an employee has a radiographic classification of category 2/1, 2/2, or 2/3 coal workers' pneumoconiosis, based on the latest ILO International Classification of Radiographics, and respiratory impairment as evidenced by spirometric test values of less than fifty-five percent (55%) of the predicted normal values or category 3/2 or 3/3 pneumoconiosis and respiratory impairment evidenced by spirometric test values of fifty-five percent (55%) or more but less than eighty percent (80%) of the predicted normal values, there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that the employee has a seventy-five percent (75%) disability rating resulting from exposure to coal dust and the employee shall be awarded income benefits which shall be equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage but not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage as determined by KRS 342.740 multiplied by the disability rating of seventy-five percent (75%). The award shall be payable for a period not to exceed five hundred twenty (520) weeks. Income benefits awarded under this paragraph shall be payable to the employee during the disability; and
(e) If it is determined that an employee has radiographic classification of 3/2 or 3/3 occupational pneumoconiosis and respiratory impairment evidenced by spirometric test values of less than fifty-five percent (55%) of the predicted normal values, or complicated pneumoconiosis (large opacities category A, B, or C progressive massive fibrosis), there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that the employee is totally disabled resulting from exposure to coal dust, and the employee shall be awarded income benefits equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee's average weekly wage but not more than one hundred percent (100%) of the state average weekly wage and not less than twenty percent (20%) of the average weekly wage of the state as determined by KRS 342.740. Income benefits awarded under this paragraph shall be payable to the employee during such disability.
(2) The presence of respiratory impairment resulting from exposure to coal dust shall be established by using the largest forced vital capacity (FVC) value or the largest forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) value determined from the totality of all such spirometric testing performed in compliance with accepted medical standards.
(3) When valid spirometric tests are not provided and a physician certifies to the administrative law judge that spirometric testing is not medically indicated because of the permanent physical condition of the employee, the administrative law judge shall make his or her decision on the basis of evidence admitted which establishes the existence of a diagnosis of occupational pneumoconiosis and respiratory impairment due to the occupational pneumoconiosis. The evidence submitted by the employee shall include one (1) or more arterial blood gas studies performed in accordance with accepted medical standards. Income benefits shall not be awarded in the absence of valid spirometric tests if the claimant's PO2 arterial blood gas value is equal to or higher than one (1) standard deviation from the normal value obtained by the formula (103.5 - 0.42X), where X equals the claimant's age at the time of the arterial blood gas study.
(4) Upon request, the commissioner shall refer an employee who has been awarded retraining incentive benefits under subsection (1)(a) of this section to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for evaluation and assessment of the training, education, or other services necessary to prepare the employee for a trade, occupation, or profession that will return the employee to remunerative employment, or services necessary and appropriate to prepare and enable the employee to successfully complete a bona fide training or education program approved by the commissioner. The commissioner shall contract with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to provide vocational rehabilitation or education services commensurate with the skill levels and abilities of the employee. Services provided under this subsection shall be funded by the coal workers' pneumoconiosis fund, KRS 342. 1242 notwithstanding, for claims filed on or before June 30, 2017, and by the employer for claims filed after June 30, 2017.
(5) The commissioner shall promulgate administrative regulations sufficient to effectuate the provisions relating to retraining incentive benefits provided under subsection (1)(a) of this section. The administrative regulations shall:
(a) Create an online portal through which employees shall select a facility or institution to provide their retraining. This portal shall list bona fide training or education programs. These programs shall include postsecondary programs registered with the Higher Education Assistance Authority, and will qualify the employee for a trade, occupation, or profession. The programs listed shall be capable of completion within the period benefits are payable under subsection (1)(a) of this section;
(b) Establish requirements for approval and certification of a bona fide training or education program;
(c) Provide that funds paid to the training or education program by the employer as required under subsection (1)(a)4. of this section shall be applied only to instruction, tuition, material costs, and any fees necessary for the completion of the program;
(d) Establish requirements for successful participation in and completion of an approved and certified bona fide training or education program, and eligibility standards that must be satisfied to receive sums to be paid by the employer pursuant to subsection (1)(a)6. of this section; and
(e) Establish attendance, performance and progress standards, and reporting requirements in consultation with the Office of Adult Education within the Department of Workforce Investment in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet as conditions that must be satisfied to receive retraining incentive income benefits pursuant to subsection (1)(a)3. of this section.
(6) In no event shall income benefits awarded under this section be stacked or added to income benefits awarded under KRS 342.730 to extend the period of disability and in no event shall income or retraining incentive benefits be paid to the employee while the employee is working in the mining industry in the severance or processing of coal as defined in KRS 342.0011(23)(a).

KRS 342.732

Amended by 2019 Ky. Acts ch. 146,§ 73, eff. 6/26/2019.
Amended by 2018 Ky. Acts ch. 40,§ 15, eff. 7/14/2018.
Amended by 2017 Ky. Acts ch. 63,§ 35, eff. 6/29/2017.
Effective:July 15, 2010
Amended 2010, Ky. Acts ch. 24, sec. 1842, effectiveJuly 15, 2010. --Amended 2006, Ky. Acts ch. 211, sec. 160, effective July 12, 2006. -- Amended 2002, Ky. Acts ch. 340, sec. 3, effective July 15, 2002. -- Amended 2000, Ky. Acts ch. 514, sec. 31, effective July 14, 2000. -- Amended 1996, (1st Extra. Sess.) Ky. Acts ch. 1, sec. 33, effective December 12, 1996. -- Amended 1994 Ky. Acts ch. 181, Part 7, sec. 26, effective April 4, 1994. -- Amended 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 99, sec. 1, effective July 13, 1990. -- Created 1987 (1st Extra. Sess.) Ky. Acts ch. 1, sec. 56, effective October 26, 1987.