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51.32.230  <<  51.32.240 >>   51.32.242

RCW 51.32.240

Erroneous payments — Payments induced by willful misrepresentation — Adjustment for self-insurer's failure to pay benefits — Recoupment of overpayments by self-insurer — Penalty — Appeal — Enforcement of orders.

(1)(a) Whenever any payment of benefits under this title is made because of clerical error, mistake of identity, innocent misrepresentation by or on behalf of the recipient thereof mistakenly acted upon, or any other circumstance of a similar nature, all not induced by willful misrepresentation, the recipient thereof shall repay it and recoupment may be made from any future payments due to the recipient on any claim with the state fund or self-insurer, as the case may be. The department or self-insurer, as the case may be, must make claim for such repayment or recoupment within one year of the making of any such payment or it will be deemed any claim therefor has been waived.

     (b) Except as provided in subsections (3), (4), and (5) of this section, the department may only assess an overpayment of benefits because of adjudicator error when the order upon which the overpayment is based is not yet final as provided in RCW 51.52.050 and 51.52.060. "Adjudicator error" includes the failure to consider information in the claim file, failure to secure adequate information, or an error in judgment.

     (c) The director, pursuant to rules adopted in accordance with the procedures provided in the administrative procedure act, chapter 34.05 RCW, may exercise his or her discretion to waive, in whole or in part, the amount of any such timely claim where the recovery would be against equity and good conscience.

     (2) Whenever the department or self-insurer fails to pay benefits because of clerical error, mistake of identity, or innocent misrepresentation, all not induced by recipient willful misrepresentation, the recipient may request an adjustment of benefits to be paid from the state fund or by the self-insurer, as the case may be, subject to the following:

     (a) The recipient must request an adjustment in benefits within one year from the date of the incorrect payment or it will be deemed any claim therefore has been waived.

     (b) The recipient may not seek an adjustment of benefits because of adjudicator error. Adjustments due to adjudicator error are addressed by the filing of a written request for reconsideration with the department of labor and industries or an appeal with the board of industrial insurance appeals within sixty days from the date the order is communicated as provided in RCW 51.52.050. "Adjudicator error" includes the failure to consider information in the claim file, failure to secure adequate information, or an error in judgment.

     (3) Whenever the department issues an order rejecting a claim for benefits paid pursuant to RCW 51.32.190 or 51.32.210, after payment for temporary disability benefits has been paid by a self-insurer pursuant to RCW 51.32.190(3) or by the department pursuant to RCW 51.32.210, the recipient thereof shall repay such benefits and recoupment may be made from any future payments due to the recipient on any claim with the state fund or self-insurer, as the case may be. The director, under rules adopted in accordance with the procedures provided in the administrative procedure act, chapter 34.05 RCW, may exercise discretion to waive, in whole or in part, the amount of any such payments where the recovery would be against equity and good conscience.

     (4) Whenever any payment of benefits under this title has been made pursuant to an adjudication by the department or by order of the board or any court and timely appeal therefrom has been made where the final decision is that any such payment was made pursuant to an erroneous adjudication, the recipient thereof shall repay it and recoupment may be made from any future payments due to the recipient on any claim whether state fund or self-insured.

     (a) The director, pursuant to rules adopted in accordance with the procedures provided in the administrative procedure act, chapter 34.05 RCW, may exercise discretion to waive, in whole or in part, the amount of any such payments where the recovery would be against equity and good conscience. However, if the director waives in whole or in part any such payments due a self-insurer, the self-insurer shall be reimbursed the amount waived from the self-insured employer overpayment reimbursement fund.

     (b) The department shall collect information regarding self-insured claim overpayments resulting from final decisions of the board and the courts, and recoup such overpayments on behalf of the self-insurer from any open, new, or reopened state fund or self-insured claims. The department shall forward the amounts collected to the self-insurer to whom the payment is owed. The department may provide information as needed to any self-insurers from whom payments may be collected on behalf of the department or another self-insurer. Notwithstanding RCW 51.32.040, any self-insurer requested by the department to forward payments to the department pursuant to this subsection shall pay the department directly. The department shall credit the amounts recovered to the appropriate fund, or forward amounts collected to the appropriate self-insurer, as the case may be.

     (c) If a self-insurer is not fully reimbursed within twenty-four months of the first attempt at recovery through the collection process pursuant to this subsection and by means of processes pursuant to subsection (6) of this section, the self-insurer shall be reimbursed for the remainder of the amount due from the self-insured employer overpayment reimbursement fund.

     (d) For purposes of this subsection, "recipient" does not include health service providers whose treatment or services were authorized by the department or self-insurer.

     (e) The department or self-insurer shall first attempt recovery of overpayments for health services from any entity that provided health insurance to the worker to the extent that the health insurance entity would have provided health insurance benefits but for workers' compensation coverage.

     (5)(a) Whenever any payment of benefits under this title has been induced by willful misrepresentation the recipient thereof shall repay any such payment together with a penalty of fifty percent of the total of any such payments and the amount of such total sum may be recouped from any future payments due to the recipient on any claim with the state fund or self-insurer against whom the willful misrepresentation was committed, as the case may be, and the amount of such penalty shall be placed in the supplemental pension fund. Such repayment or recoupment must be demanded or ordered within three years of the discovery of the willful misrepresentation.

     (b) For purposes of this subsection (5), it is willful misrepresentation for a person to obtain payments or other benefits under this title in an amount greater than that to which the person otherwise would be entitled. Willful misrepresentation includes:

     (i) Willful false statement; or

     (ii) Willful misrepresentation, omission, or concealment of any material fact.

     (c) For purposes of this subsection (5), "willful" means a conscious or deliberate false statement, misrepresentation, omission, or concealment of a material fact with the specific intent of obtaining, continuing, or increasing benefits under this title.

     (d) For purposes of this subsection (5), failure to disclose a work-type activity must be willful in order for a misrepresentation to have occurred.

     (e) For purposes of this subsection (5), a material fact is one which would result in additional, increased, or continued benefits, including but not limited to facts about physical restrictions, or work-type activities which either result in wages or income or would be reasonably expected to do so. Wages or income include the receipt of any goods or services. For a work-type activity to be reasonably expected to result in wages or income, a pattern of repeated activity must exist. For those activities that would reasonably be expected to result in wages or produce income, but for which actual wage or income information cannot be reasonably determined, the department shall impute wages pursuant to RCW 51.08.178(4).

     (6) The worker, beneficiary, or other person affected thereby shall have the right to contest an order assessing an overpayment pursuant to this section in the same manner and to the same extent as provided under RCW 51.52.050 and 51.52.060. In the event such an order becomes final under chapter 51.52 RCW and notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (1) through (5) of this section, the director, director's designee, or self-insurer may file with the clerk in any county within the state a warrant in the amount of the sum representing the unpaid overpayment and/or penalty plus interest accruing from the date the order became final. The clerk of the county in which the warrant is filed shall immediately designate a superior court cause number for such warrant and the clerk shall cause to be entered in the judgment docket under the superior court cause number assigned to the warrant, the name of the worker, beneficiary, or other person mentioned in the warrant, the amount of the unpaid overpayment and/or penalty plus interest accrued, and the date the warrant was filed. The amount of the warrant as docketed shall become a lien upon the title to and interest in all real and personal property of the worker, beneficiary, or other person against whom the warrant is issued, the same as a judgment in a civil case docketed in the office of such clerk. The sheriff shall then proceed in the same manner and with like effect as prescribed by law with respect to execution or other process issued against rights or property upon judgment in the superior court. Such warrant so docketed shall be sufficient to support the issuance of writs of garnishment in favor of the department or self-insurer in the manner provided by law in the case of judgment, wholly or partially unsatisfied. The clerk of the court shall be entitled to a filing fee under RCW 36.18.012(10), which shall be added to the amount of the warrant. A copy of such warrant shall be mailed to the worker, beneficiary, or other person within three days of filing with the clerk.

     The director, director's designee, or self-insurer may issue to any person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, a notice to withhold and deliver property of any kind if there is reason to believe that there is in the possession of such person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, property that is due, owing, or belonging to any worker, beneficiary, or other person upon whom a warrant has been served for payments due the department or self-insurer. The notice and order to withhold and deliver shall be served by a method for which receipt can be confirmed or tracked accompanied by an affidavit of service by mailing or served by the sheriff of the county, or by the sheriff's deputy, or by any authorized representative of the director, director's designee, or self-insurer. Any person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state upon whom service has been made shall answer the notice within twenty days exclusive of the day of service, under oath and in writing, and shall make true answers to the matters inquired or in the notice and order to withhold and deliver. In the event there is in the possession of the party named and served with such notice and order, any property that may be subject to the claim of the department or self-insurer, such property shall be delivered forthwith to the director, the director's authorized representative, or self-insurer upon demand. If the party served and named in the notice and order fails to answer the notice and order within the time prescribed in this section, the court may, after the time to answer such order has expired, render judgment by default against the party named in the notice for the full amount, plus costs, claimed by the director, director's designee, or self-insurer in the notice. In the event that a notice to withhold and deliver is served upon an employer and the property found to be subject thereto is wages, the employer may assert in the answer all exemptions provided for by chapter 6.27 RCW to which the wage earner may be entitled.

     This subsection shall only apply to orders assessing an overpayment which are issued on or after July 28, 1991: PROVIDED, That this subsection shall apply retroactively to all orders assessing an overpayment resulting from fraud, civil or criminal.

     (7) Orders assessing an overpayment which are issued on or after July 28, 1991, shall include a conspicuous notice of the collection methods available to the department or self-insurer.

[2011 c 290 § 6; 2008 c 280 § 2; 2004 c 243 § 7; 2001 c 146 § 10. Prior: 1999 c 396 § 1; 1999 c 119 § 1; 1991 c 88 § 1; 1986 c 54 § 1; 1975 1st ex.s. c 224 § 13.]

Notes:

     Effective date -- 2008 c 280: "Section 2 of this act takes effect January 1, 2009." [2008 c 280 § 6.]

     Application -- 2008 c 280: See note following RCW 51.52.050.

     Application -- 2004 c 243 § 7: "Section 7 of this act applies to willful misrepresentation determinations issued on or after July 1, 2004." [2004 c 243 § 9.]

     Adoption of rules -- 2004 c 243: See note following RCW 51.08.177.

     Effective date -- 1975 1st ex.s. c 224: See note following RCW 51.04.110.