Vermont Workers’ Comp Changes Now in Effect

August 7, 2023

Vermont’s workers’ compensation benefits for temporary total disability and for dependent children, as well as the work search requirement for injured workers returning to the job market, changed starting July 1, 2023, the result of new legislation.

These changes were part of a bill mainly addressing childcare and early education that Governor Philip B. Scott vetoed because it imposed a new payroll tax for the childcare services. The Legislature, however, overrode the veto.

Also in effect July 1 was a separate law signed by Scott in May that sets rules for firefighters with cancer to qualify for workers’ compensation.

According to the state’s Department of Labor, these are some of the changes:

  • The method for calculating temporary partial disability benefits (TPD) has been changed. Lawmakers hope the change will incentivize low wage earners to return to work rather than remain on disability.
  • The weekly benefit for each dependent child under 21 years of age increases from $10 to $20. In addition, the dependent benefit applies to temporary partial disability benefits as well as temporary total disability benefits.
  • The preauthorization process for medical treatment has been expanded to include surgical, medical, and nursing services and supplies, including prescription drugs and durable medical equipment.

This new law also gives carriers guidance on allowable work search requirements. A claimant may be required to conduct no more than three work searches a week. A carrier may not require a work search if the claimant is already working in another job, or if they have been referred for or are scheduled for a surgical procedure.

The new law on firefighters establishes, among other things, that a firefighter who dies or has a disability from cancer shall be presumed to have had the cancer as a result of exposure to conditions in the line of duty, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was caused by non-service-connected risk factors or non-service-connected exposure.