20 CFR § 702.321 - Procedures for determining applicability of section 8(f) of the Act.
(a) Application: filing, service, contents.
(1) An employer or insurance carrier which seeks to invoke the provisions of section 8(f) of the Act must request limitation of its liability and file a fully documented application with the district director. A fully documented application must contain a specific description of the pre-existing condition relied upon as constituting an existing permanent partial disability and the reasons for believing that the claimant's permanent disability after the injury would be less were it not for the pre-existing permanent partial disability or that the death would not have ensued but for that disability. These reasons must be supported by medical evidence as specified in this paragraph. The application must also contain the basis for the assertion that the pre-existing condition relied upon was manifest in the employer and documentary medical evidence relied upon in support of the request for section 8(f) relief. This medical evidence must include, but not be limited to, a current medical report establishing the extent of all impairments and the date of maximum medical improvement. If the claimant has already reached maximum medical improvement, a report prepared at that time will satisfy the requirement for a current medical report. If the current disability is total, the medical report must explain why the disability is not due solely to the second injury. If the current disability is partial, the medical report must explain why the disability is not due solely to the second injury and why the resulting disability is materially and substantially greater than that which would have resulted from the subsequent injury alone. If the injury is loss of hearing, the pre-existing hearing loss must be documented by an audiogram which complies with the requirements of § 702.441. If the claim is for survivor's benefits, the medical report must establish that the death was not due solely to the second injury. Any other evidence considered necessary for consideration of the request for section 8(f) relief must be submitted when requested by the district director or Director.
(2) If claim is being paid by the special fund and the claimant dies, an employer need not reapply for section 8(f) relief. However, survivor benefits will not be paid until it has been established that the death was due to the accepted injury and the eligible survivors have been identified. The district director will issue a compensation order after a claim has been filed and entitlement of the survivors has been verified. Since the employer remains a party in interest to the claim, a compensation order will not be issued without the agreement of the employer.
(b) Application: Time for filing.
(1) A request for section 8(f) relief should be made as soon as the permanency of the claimant's condition becomes known or is an issue in dispute. This could be when benefits are first paid for permanent disability, or at an informal conference held to discuss the permanency of the claimant's condition. Where the claim is for death benefits, the request should be made as soon as possible after the date of death. Along with the request for section 8(f) relief, the applicant must also submit all the supporting documentation required by this section, described in paragraph (a) of this section. Where possible, this documentation should accompany the request, but may be submitted separately, in which case the district director must, at the time of the request, fix a date for submission of the fully documented application. The date must be fixed as follows:
(i) Where notice is given to all parties that permanency will be an issue at an informal conference, the fully documented application must be submitted at or before the conference. For these purposes, notice means when the issue of permanency is noted on the form LS–141, Notice of Informal Conference. All parties are required to list issues reasonably anticipated to be discussed at the conference when the initial request for a conference is made and to notify all parties of additional issues which arise during the period before the conference is actually held.
(ii) Where the issue of permanency is first raised at the informal conference and could not have reasonably been anticipated by the parties prior to the conference, the district director must adjourn the conference and establish the date by which the fully documented application must be submitted and so notify the employer/carrier. The date will be set by the district director after reviewing the circumstances of the case.
(2) At the request of the employer or insurance carrier, and for good cause, the district director, at his/her discretion, may grant an extension of the date for submission of the fully documented application. In fixing the date for submission of the application under circumstances other than described above or in considering any request for an extension of the date for submitting the application, the district director must consider all the circumstances of the case, including but not limited to: Whether the claimant is being paid compensation and the hardship to the claimant of delaying referral of the case to the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ); the complexity of the issues and the availability of medical and other evidence to the employer; the length of time the employer was or should have been aware that permanency is an issue; and, the reasons listed in support of the request. If the employer/carrier requested a specific date, the reasons for selection of that date will also be considered. Neither the date selected for submission of the fully documented application nor any extension therefrom can go beyond the date the case is referred to the OALJ for formal hearing.
(3) Where the claimant's condition has not reached maximum medical improvement and no claim for permanency is raised by the date the case is referred to the OALJ, an application need not be submitted to the district director to preserve the employer's right to later seek relief under section 8(f) of the Act. In all other cases, failure to submit a fully documented application by the date established by the district director will be an absolute defense to the liability of the special fund. This defense is an affirmative defense which must be raised and pleaded by the Director. The absolute defense will not be raised where permanency was not an issue before the district director. In all other cases, where permanency has been raised, the failure of an employer to submit a timely and fully documented application for section 8(f) relief will not prevent the district director, at his/her discretion, from considering the claim for compensation and transmitting the case for formal hearing. The failure of an employer to present a timely and fully documented application for section 8(f) relief may be excused only where the employer could not have reasonably anticipated the liability of the special fund prior to the consideration of the claim by the district director. Relief under section 8(f) is not available to an employer who fails to comply with section 32(a) of the Act, 33 U.S.C. 932(a).
(c) Application: Approval, disapproval. If all the evidence required by paragraph (a) of this section was submitted with the application for section 8(f) relief and the facts warrant relief under this section, the district director must award such relief after concurrence by the Associate Director, DLHWC, or his or her designee. If the district director or the Associate Director or his or her designee finds that the facts do not warrant relief under section 8(f) the district director must advise the employer of the grounds for the denial. The application for section 8(f) relief may then be considered by an administrative law judge. When a case is transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law Judges the district director must also attach a copy of the application for section 8(f) relief submitted by the employer, and notwithstanding § 702.317(c), the district director's denial of the application.