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Category: Ohio Bwc

New Ruling on MMI to Impact TTD Termination

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Ohio Supreme Court, Workers' Comp, TTD, MMI, Temporary Total, Disability Comepnsation

Earlier in March, the Ohio Supreme Court made a decision regarding Temporary Total Disability (TTD) that overrules a 25 year precedent set by another interpretation. In State ex rel. Dillon v Industrial Commission, the court ruled that an Ohio employer may request termination of a claimant’s TTD from the date an independent medical examination (IME) renders that claimant MMI, or Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is the point in recovery where the claimant’s condition has stabilized, and any notable improvements going forward are unlikely.  Ohio employers can now request that TTD payments are stopped on the date that MMI is determined by a medical provider, without waiting for the next Industrial Commission hearing that could be up to 60 days away. This case also sets a precedent that claimants are no longer eligible for continuing TTD payouts once they’ve reached MMI status. That means self-insured employers (and BWC) will have the ability to recover compensation overpayments that may have occurred after MMI was determined.  Our friends at Roetzel & Andress have put together a more detailed explanation. If you have questions about how this this may impact your current, open claims, please reach out to your

SUR Program Provides Additional Program Funding for Employers

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio Bwc, Substance Use Recovery, Funding

We talked about this program a few months ago, and wanted to share it again since we’ve seen renewed interest from Spooner clients. Ohio BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program provides additional funding for employers to effectively manage substance use in the workplace, especially for companies open to employing those in recovery from substance abuse.  Ohio employers can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $5000 annually. Policy development and testing expenses do have some limits within the $5000, but employers can spend the entire $5000 on training if desired. This isn’t reserved for Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program participants – any state fund employer can take advantage of this program. While there are a few rules in place and some ineligible expenses, this program is simple to participate in and use. The biggest exception is that drug test reimbursement is limited to employers with a “second chance policy.” Each category of reimbursement can be used individually, meaning that employers can still take advantage of the training and policy development reimbursements, even if they aren’t comfortable with a second chance

OH | ID Login Transition with BWC

Posted By Brandy King
March 22, 2024 Category: Ohio BWC, BWC Login, OH ID

Ohio employers have begun seeing the option to log in to their BWC accounts with their OH|ID username and password.  For the next couple of months, you’ll still be able to use your existing Ohio BWC site login. At some point prior to the upcoming 2024-2025 BWC policy year, employers will only have the option to login via OH|ID.    If your company already has an OH|ID set up, you’re a step ahead and will simply need to merge the accounts when prompted.  If not, we’d suggest getting it done as soon as possible. You can find more information on the upcoming change here, including links to video instructions on the right hand

February 2024 Ohio BWC Update: Rate Reductions and Login Credentials

February 2024 Ohio BWC Update: Rate Reductions and  Login Credentials

Posted By Brandy King
February 22, 2024 Category: Ohio BWC, BWC Update, OHID Login, BWC Rate Reduction 2024

Ohio BWC Rate Reduction for PY 2024-25 Approved Following a rate reduction for public Ohio employers that went into effect January 1, 2024 – Ohio BWC has approved another rate reduction for private employers. Governor DeWine and the administrators at Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation asked their board to approve a 7% rate decrease, which they approved on February 23rd, 2024. Those rates will become effective on July 1, 2024, at the start of the new policy year. BWC will collect roughly $67 million less in premiums from Ohio employers over the course of the policy year.   As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to note that a 7% rate reduction is not literal – it “represents a statewide average” reduction. What that means for employers is that some rates may go down…but it’s also possible for some to go up. Spooner clients will be notified of any rate changes at their annual renewal. If you’re not a Spooner client and your TPA isn’t reviewing your anticipated rate changes with you, we’re happy to help you understand the potential impact on your premiums. Just complete our online AC-3 form and someone will reach out to you right away.  Ohio Employers Will Soon Transition to OH|ID Logins for BWC Website Around the end of February, Ohio employers may see the option to log in to their BWC accounts with their OH|ID username and password.  For the next couple of months, you’ll st

DOL Issues Final Rule on Independent Contractors

Posted By Brandy King
January 17, 2024 Category: DOL, Independent Contractors, Ohio Bwc, Workers' Comp

Who’s Really an Independent Contractor? DOL Finalizes New Rule Clarifying Classification Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finalized its rules regarding classification of independent contractors. The organization hadn’t previously defined this by regulations, only by guidelines (which are as clear as OSHA “best practices”).  The updated rule creates a six-factor “economic realities” test to determine whether or not a worker is truly an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Among others, the test includes factors such as degree of permanence, amount of control the employer holds, and the worker’s skills.   Since Ohio employers aren’t required to cover 1099 employees under their BWC policy, we have a lot of discussions with clients about whether or not a worker actually meets the qualifications of being an independent contractor. Understanding these qualifications is not only important for insurance purposes, but also for recordkeeping, and the application of minimum wage and overtime rules.  Our friends at Roetzel & Andress have done a great job of explaining this new classification rule in a way that’s easy to digest and understand, so we’re deferring to their recent update for the details.  For more info on how independent contractors can impact your Ohio BWC policy, check out this blog.  This goes into effect March 11

Ohio BWC Update to Wrap Up 2023

Posted By Brandy King
December 18, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Update, Group Retro, Transitional Work, Ohio Bwc EM Cap, Drug Free Safety Program

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be rolling out several changes that will impact Ohio employers in 2024. We mentioned back in August that the way base rates are structured may be changing, which BWC has confirmed. It’s uncertain how this will impact the end premiums, but no big swings are anticipated. We’ll be keeping our clients informed about any major changes.  The following rating elements will also be changing, with the potential to impact future premiums:  •    Deductible Factors •    Individual Retro – minimum premium factors •    Group Retro - loss development factors •    Premium Size Credit – ranges and factors This is also a “wait and see” situation, as we don’t yet know exactly what changes BWC plans on making to these elements.  Certificates of coverage will look different next year as well. They’ll now also list the employer’s MCO, any additional insureds, officers, who is eligible for elective coverage (such as owners), and NCCI codes and descriptions, in addition to the company’s address.  As of now, if employers need to make a minor change or correct an error in a company’s policy name, they had to complete a specific form and fax or mail that form back to BWC. The only way this process could be made slower would be by carrier pigeon. Luckily, they’ve stepped int

August BWC Update: Program and Premium Changes for the Year Ahead

Posted By Brandy King
August 25, 2023 Category: ohio bwc, workers comp, group retro, safety council, 2024 py

Ohio BWC will be making some changes for the 2024 policy year (beginning 7/1/24), some of which may have a small advantage for certain policyholders.  Employers will still be subsidizing BWC’s administrative fund as they always have, but House Budget Bill 31 will change how the money is accounted for. Right now, state fund employers are paying base rates plus 29.01%, and that percentage is an administrative fee that goes into the fund. In the future, the admin fee will be fully baked into the base rates, resulting in rates that are roughly 20% higher. All told, employers shouldn’t see a huge difference in amounts paid to BWC. This will apply to both public and private employers, beginning on their respective 2024 policy year start dates.   Another change will allow for potentially better refunds from post-policy year savings programs, like Group Retro, Safety Council, etc. In prior years, those rebates were calculated based on a percentage of “standard premium” – in other words, premiums before BWC’s 29% admin fee was tacked on. If an employer paid $50,000 in annual premium to BWC, only $35,500 if it was counted as premium that they’d be rebated on. Program credits and refunds will begin using full premium in 2024, instead of peeling off the administrative portion of premium when calculating refunds and credits.  The premium dollars going into Retro consortiums will still exclude Premium Size Factor Reductions. T

It's True Up Time Again!

Its True Up Time Again!

Posted By Brandy King
July 20, 2023 Category: ohio bwc, true up, payroll, bwc premiums, BWC reporting

BWC’s True Up window began on July 1, 2023 and will run through August 15, 2023. This is a process required by Ohio BWC at the end of each policy year, where your premiums based on projected payroll for the previous policy year are balanced with premiums based on your actual payroll over the past year. Compliance with both the reporting and payment of any balances affects your company’s eligibility for most savings programs (like Group and Group Retro). If your actual payroll was higher than projected, you’ll be expected to pay that balance to Ohio BWC no later than August 15th. If you are unable to pay the lump sum at that time, please note that any future premium installments will first be applied to your delinquent True Up Balance before being applied to your premium installments. Payment plans for True Up balances are only available through the Ohio Attorney General’s office following an application process.  If this year’s True Up caught you by surprise, next year consider running a mock report in May or June to help your company prepare for any balance that may be owed. The payroll classifications and totals reported this summer will be used to determine your 2024 policy year premiums. For the 2023 policy year that just began, BWC will be using payroll projections based on your True Up from July 2022. Adjustments to your estimated payroll can also be made throughout the year by contacting BWC at 1-800-644-6292. Spooner clients are

Choosing the Best Workers' Comp Partner for Your Business

Choosing the Best Workers Comp Partner for Your Business

Posted By Brandy King
July 20, 2023 Category: Ohio Workers Comp, Ohio Bwc, Ohio Tpa, Claims Management, Group Rating, Group Retro, PEO

Even though the 2023 BWC policy year just started, we’re already looking ahead to 2024 Group Rating and Group Retro programs. It can be hard to feel like a savvy buyer when it comes to workers’ comp in Ohio, but Spooner would like to share some pointers for how to understand the timeline and choose the best partner.   If you’re thinking of changing your partner for Group Rating or Group Retro, be sure not to complete the renewal that your current TPA sends this summer. Most employers don’t realize that cutting a check for a renewal in summer of 2023 will obligate them to their current TPA through June of 2025. Make sure your accounting team is aware of this, too. We’ve seen too many unhappy customers of other TPAs get trapped this way.  Are you under the impression that because you’re a member of XYZ Chamber of Commerce, you have to utilize their partner for workers’ comp programs? Not the case. The sponsoring organization frames it that way because there’s money on the table. For example, if you are an XYZ Chamber member (who happens to be partnered with a specific TPA) and you want to leave that TPA, XYZ Chamber makes less money. Naturally, they want you to stay with their TPA and may even advise you can’t get that discount outside of their partnership. This is patently false. Most TPAs have access to all of the same Group Rating and Group Retro programs for all industries, and the sponsoring orga

MCO Open Enrollment is Here!

Posted By Brandy King
May 12, 2023 Category: Mco Open Enrollment, Ohio Mco, Best Ohio Mco, Top Managed Care, Ohio Bwc, Workers Compensation

Many of you know that every two years in May, MCO Open Enrollment occurs. This is the time that Ohio employers can choose the Managed Care Organization (MCO) they’ll work with for the next two years, and beyond.  If you’re reading this and Spooner Medical Administrators, Inc. (SMAI) isn’t your MCO, now’s the time to move on possibly the best business decision you’ll make this year. Especially if you work with Spooner Inc. as your TPA, having SMAI as your MCO really opens the lines of communication between both parties. SMAI's team is ready to schedule a call, Zoom, or in-person meeting with you anytime through May 26. Click here to send them a message, or give them a call.  Remember, MCO Open Enrollment only comes around every two years and only lasts four weeks. If you’re on the fence, it may be time to take a chance. Switching MCOs costs nothing, but when claims are managed poorly from a medical perspective - you’ll feel the sting down the road in your BWC premiums. Additionally, bi-weekly management calls and customizable reports can help you feel like you’re never out of the loop with what’s happening in your claims. Speaking of staying informed - SMAI's proprietary web-based software allows you create and run customized reports 24/7, report a claim at any hour, search in-network providers, and even create multiple  company logins with different restrictions and a

2018 & 2019 Group Retro Update

Posted By Brandy King
April 24, 2023 Category: Group Retro, Ohio Bwc, 2018 Group Retro, Group Retro Lawsuit

Many of you may be wondering what the status is of the Group Retro lawsuit that we talked so much about in February. Just over two months have passed – but when it comes to legal matters, it’s not much time at all. To catch you up to speed, a magistrate determined in February that BWC abused their discretion by withholding Retro refunds. BWC had a two-week window following that 2/6/23 decision to file any objections to the decision – which of course, they did. They chose to reiterate several points from their original arguments, and indicated that they did possess the authority to change a portion of the Revised Code without going through the typical rulemaking process. Our lead plaintiff, Kent Elastomer, and their counsel at Roetzel & Andress have already filed a response to those objections. We’re waiting to see if the full court of appeals wishes to hear oral arguments or proceed with the record that has already been established.  Unfortunately, there is no timetable on these next steps, but we will keep you updated here on our blog, on our LinkedIn page, and through our client services managers (if you’re a current Spooner client). If you participated in Group Retro during the 2018 or 2019 policy years and would like to be on our roster so we can fight for your refunds when the tie comes, complete this form and one of our team members will be in touch with

Ohio BWC Rates Still Rising for Some Employers in '23

Ohio BWC Rates Still Rising for Some Employers in 23

Posted By Brandy King
April 21, 2023 Category: ohio bwc, 2023 base rates, workers compensation, group rating

  You may remember that we told you earlier in the year that Ohio BWC’s “Base Rate Reduction” didn’t mean lower rates for everyone. Now we have the data on which base rates are going up, and the Ohio workers’ comp policies that increases will be impacted. Manual (NCCI) codes within all industries will see increases, but some more than others. If your business classifies payroll under manual codes for commercial, transportation, construction or agriculture, some of your base rates may increase as much as 20%. These new rates will become effective when the new BWC policy year begins on July 1, 2023. Being enrolled in Group Rating for the 2023 policy year doesn’t “lock in” rates – these will still apply regardless of program enrollment. No one likes surprises when it comes to finance, so we’re here to help determine how much of an increase you can expect. If you complete this form on our website, we’ll calculate your increase for you and we’re happy to discuss additional savings options. If you have any additional questions about these changes, please contact us at

Catastrophic Safety Services

Catastrophic Safety Services

Posted By Brandy King
March 27, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Workers' Comp, Safety, Catastrophic Claim, Public Relations, Osha

We’ve been collecting testimonials from a few clients lately, and one of them spoke about how our safety team responded to a stressful situation in a way that gave him a lot less to worry about. HR Associates Personnel Service in Piqua, Ohio began working with Spooner as their TPA over ten years ago. Soon after our partnership began, an employee tragically suffered a heart attack while driving a forklift - and right away, Spooner sprang into action. We provided an investigation, followed by a comprehensive study with photos of the worksite. Steve Risner, Vice President of HR Associates, told us that “having piece-of-mind on that day spoke volumes about the integrity of Spooner’s team.”   When catastrophic events happen in the workplace, management shifts into high gear to respond. Incidents like amputations, forklift accidents, fatalities, and personal illnesses that manifest at work are examples of catastrophic events that could lead to OSHA and VSSR issues. Spooner’s safety professionals can support your management team in these crisis situations by conducting thorough incident investigations to identify the root cause, and creating plans for preventive actions going forward. Catastrophic events require a swift and proactive response, so we urge you to contact us as soon as these events occur, so we can provide best

The Future of the Voluntary Abandonment Defense Remains Unclear

The Future of the Voluntary Abandonment Defense Remains Unclear

Posted By Brandy King
March 27, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Workers' Comp, Voluntary Abandonment, Industrial Commission, Tpa

  A recent House Bill made changes to Revised Code (R.C.) 4123.56, which became effective in September 2022. This part of the R.C. clarifies eligibility for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) compensation in workers’ comp claims. It was meant to provide clarity following the decades of case law that had complicated the “voluntary abandonment” defense often used by employers when a claimant takes voluntary action to end their employment. While the statute reads clearly enough, the changes resulted in ambiguity due to lack of detail. Ohio BWC or the Industrial Commission will often issue a clarification following such changes – but that didn’t happen this time. On March 2, 2023, the Tenth District Court of Appeals in Columbus issued a decision in State ex rel. Autozone Stores, Inc. v. Industrial Commission that could have a broad impact for Ohio employers. This was the first time an appellate court weighed in on the application of 4123.56(F) in a TTD claim, and it wasn’t a favorable ruling for businesses. Essentially, the ruling allowed the claimant to continue collecting TTD even though they were able to work with restrictions (for a different employer). The potential impact of this decision could hold employers hostage with no defense in TTD claims, driving up both EMRs and premiums for Ohio businesses. If you’d like to read more about the case surrounding this and its implications, click

2023 Spooner Safety Seminars Announced

2023 Spooner Safety Seminars Announced

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: Safety Training, 2 Hour Training, Ohio Bwc, Spooner Safety Series

*ATTENTION 2022 PY Group and Group Retro Clients* The Spooner Safety Seminars are back on the road! All employers are welcome to attend these informative workplace safety seminars. The training sessions will satisfy BWC’s 2-hour safety training requirement for companies participating in Group Rating or Group Retrospective Rating for the 2022 policy year. Cleveland Area April 18, 2023 from 10 am -12 pm at Holiday Inn, 6001 Rockside Road, Independence, OH  44131 - Click here to register Dayton/Cincinnati Area April 19, 2023 from 10am - 12 pm at Hilton Garden Inn Dayton South-Austin Landing, 12000 Innovation Drive, Miamisburg, OH  45342 - Click here to register Columbus Area April 19, 2023 from 3pm -5 pm at Embassy Suites, 5100 Upper Metro Place, Dublin, OH  43017 - Click here to register Youngstown Area April 20, 2023 from 10 am - 12 pm at A La Cart Catering, 429 Lisbon Street, Canfield, OH  44406 - Click here to register   NOTE: Registration Deadline is 4/10/23, 11:59 PM The attendance fee is $35.00/person, billed out after your attendance. Feel free to contact our safety team with any

2023 Q1 Ohio BWC Update

2023 Q1 Ohio BWC Update

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Update, 2023 Bwc Rates, Bwc Rate Reduction, Ohio Safety Congress, Dfsp, One Claim Program

BWC announced in January that they are proposing an 8% rate reduction for private employers in the 2023 policy year (which begins 7/1/23). This isn’t the first time they’ve touted it – and it’s also not the first time people have misunderstood what it actually means. Not all manual classifications (NCCI codes) will receive a decrease. In fact, some may see their base rates rise. The 8% is an average, meaning BWC will collect 8% less premium across the board. The administrative fee baked into employer premiums will be coming down for the 2023 policy year, but don’t get too excited. It’s going from 31.59% to 29.01%. The 2.58% drop won’t make a huge difference for most Ohio employers. For example, a policy with a $75,000 annual premium will only see a savings of $1935 next year based on that change. Make sure you complete the 2-hour safety training required for 2022 PY Group Rating and Group Retro participants by June 30, 2023. We have you covered on this one! Just sign up for one of our Safety Seminars being held throughout Ohio in April. These fill up fast, so don’t wait to register. Registration is open for 2023 Ohio Safety Congress! We’ve missed this event dearly and we’re excited to return. For the uninitiated, this three-day event takes place March 8-10 and is FREE for state-fund employers (those with a BWC policy). Between the education, exhibits, continuing education credits and teambuilding

Initial Victory for 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Initial Victory for 2018 Group Retro Refunds

Posted By Brandy King
February 20, 2023 Category: 2018 Group Retro, Ohio Bwc, Missing Refunds

Obviously, our biggest news is the legal victory in our Group Retro case! Earlier in February, a Magistrate from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Columbus ruled in favor of our client Kent Elastomer Products, Inc., vacating BWC’s 2020 decision to withhold 2018 Group Retro refunds. You can read our official public statement in its entirety here. There are still a couple of hurdles to be cleared, so we’re doing our best to educate employers on the story so far, and what could happen next. As of 2/15/22, Ohio BWC had requested a two-week extension on their initial two-week appeal window. Please stay tuned for updates! Any major developments will be shared first on the Spooner Inc LinkedIn page.   If you're not a Spooner Inc client, you can complete this form to request additional information about your potential

Handicaps in Ohio Workers' Comp

Handicaps in Ohio Workers Comp

Posted By Brandy King
January 19, 2023 Category: Ohio Bwc, Ohio Workers Comp, Handicap Reimbursement, Tpa, Claims Management

When our team meets with prospective clients, we provide an in-depth analysis of their Ohio BWC policy. This allows us to show them how things got to where they are, where they’re headed, and if any of the damage done can be mitigated in some way. By the time we review the claims, it’s sometimes too late to un-ring most of those bells. However, one of the key items we focus on for our clients (especially new ones) is handicap potential. Ohio BWC has a list of pre-existing conditions that would delay a claimant’s recovery following a work-related injury.  While some maladies on the list are rare in claimants, the top four are fairly common. If you have a lost time claim in your experience, it’s worth looking into. Here’s an example of what it could look like: Employee files a workers’ compensation claim that causes a 30% increase in premiums (once it enters the experience), to the tune of $20,000 additional each year for four years. Without a handicap, this claim is projected to cost the employer $80,000 in additional premium. Spooner locates medical evidence to indicate a pre-existing condition that qualifies for a handicap, and obtains a handicap at 30% from BWC.  Employers receive a benefit from the handicap in either reduced premium payments in the future, or will receive a refund check from the BWC for overpaid premium - depending on when the handicap is granted by the BWC and how far along the claim is in the

2023 Group Retro Deadline Approaching!

Posted By Brandy King
December 08, 2022 Category: ohio bwc, workers comp, group retro, premium savings, 2023 programs

     We’re giving you one more reminder that the second biggest program enrollment deadline, Group Retrospective Rating – is right around the corner! More commonly referred to as Group Retro, this program is great for any companies who may be penalty rated, missed the Group Rating deadline, or simply have a different appetite for risk. Companies that participate in Group Retro will pay their normal premiums to BWC, and will be rebated based on the performance of the group they were placed in. Groups are homogenous, meaning you’re sharing a pool with other employers in your industry. Spooner will be accepting Group Retro enrollments through January

Is Our Company Allowed to Pay Cash for Workers' Comp Treatment in Ohio?

Is Our Company Allowed to Pay Cash for Workers Comp Treatment in Ohio

Posted By Brandy King
November 14, 2022 Category: Ohio Bwc, Workers Comp, Cash Payment, Paying Cash For Treatment, 15K, SI PEO, Deductibles

We know it happens. An employer pays cash at an urgent care for that “one and done” work-related injury visit, or maybe a handful of chiropractor visits. The employer didn’t want the claims costs hitting their experience and premiums, or to risk their EMR going even higher. Unless they’re in one of a few specific programs, employers paying cash for treatment of a work-related injury is prohibited. It can go left quickly and create some ugly scenarios for employers. We want to help you understand what can happen, and some above-board ways to reduce the impact of medical costs on future premiums. Paying cash for an injured worker’s medical treatment is a slippery slope. Ohio BWC-approved providers should not be willing to accept an employer’s cash payment for treatment unless they are self-insured for workers’ comp in Ohio, part of the 15K program, or an Ohio-BWC approved deductible plan. If an employee hurts their back at work and claims they just want to see a chiropractor - it may seem both easy and tempting to pay cash for a few visits. No need to file a claim and make a big deal of it, right? Wrong. Especially with soft tissue injuries, treatment could go on for months (even years), and may eventually require an orthopedic surgeon. When BWC finds out that the initial injury wasn’t reported as a claim and the employer chose to pay cash for treatment, that employer now has a non-covered claim. That means the employer will b

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