Christopher Devereux was employed as an attorney by State Compensation Insurance Fund. He sustained an admitted industrial injury in the form of hypertension, diabetes, heart, circulatory, and cognitive impairment, as a result of continuous trauma ending in 2015.
The cardiology QME reported that the cardiac impairment was separate and distinct from the cognitive impairment reported by the neuropsychology QME. Thus he said that the most accurate rating in this case would be to add the impairment ratings, and do not require the Combined Values Chart.
The QME went on to say “frankly, when we are dealing with mental impairments and physical impairments, in terms of the ultimate disability there often is not much the way of overlap. It is my perspective that these two impairments that are discrete and. in very different areas are best combined through a strict adding procedure than anything else. I do not hrave a basis to argue that they are synergistic to..any. significant-degree. That is, I would not argue that the actual disability is greater than the simple additive combining of the impairments.
The WCJ found applicant sustained 90% permanent disability by adding rather than combining the disabilities. The WCJ determined that applicant’s combined permanent disability rating, from the WPI ratings of the two QMEs should be based upon adding the impairments rather than using the CVC, in view of the physicians’ opinions that this was most appropriate in the absence of overlapping impairments.
The petition for reconsideration of this finding by the State Fund was denied in the panel decision of Devereux v. SCIF.
“The rating schedule provides that the CVC is “generally” used to combine multiple disabilities, but that other methodology may be used depending upon the relevant circumstances. It is the role of the medical expert to make a medical determination as to how to combine the separate impairments. One reason for using the CVC is to avoid combining impairments that lead to a rating greater than 100% permanent disability. However, this concern is not justified here, since applicant cannot receive a permanent disability award for a single injury greater than 100%”.
“Multiple cases have held that this determination is best based upon the extent to which the impairments affect applicant’s ability to perform activities of daily living. It is the opinions of the medical evaluators and not a rigid application of the CVC in the rating schedule that should prevail. (Athens Administrators v. Workers’ Comp, Appeals Bd. (Kite) (2013) 78 Cal.Comp.Cases 213.”
“It has been recognized that a disability rating, ‘should reflect as accurately as possible an injured employee’s diminished ability to compete in the open labor market.’ (LeBoeuf. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd, (1983) 34 Cal.3d 234,245-246 [48 Cal.Comp.Cases 587].) In this case, the WCJ reasonably concluded that the medical evaluators properly determined that adding the hypertension and cognitive impairment disabilities more accurately reflects applicant’s entire permanent disability than results from using the CVC.”