It hurts too much to work, is the theme of the latest PTD award from Illinois, affirming life-time benefits to a young, highly-educated claimant who strained his back nearly nine years ago after working only briefly for his employer. The case is Ameritech Services Inc. v. Ill.Workers’ Compensation, Comn,No. 1-08-1412WC, (1st Dist. 3-17-09).1
Claimant reported chronic pain complaints after he hurt his back carrying equipment down steps from his apartment to his car, working as a commissioned sales person based out of his home, a job that he held for about two months. Claimant was initially diagnosed with a back strain with findings of degenerative bulging disc disease that the radiologist considered "probably chronic." Claimant had a subsequent auto accident involving his back which he states did not change his condition. Dr. Pahwa found no objective findings to support his continued complaints of pain and his reported need to lie down and change positions. Claimant later rejected proposals by Dr. Haak and Dr. Giersaan for interbody fusion. Claimant received social security disability benefits and never returned to work.
The arbitrator rejected the employer’s position whether or not it had offered claimant work within the medical restrictions. It is not clear how the offer was made. The award included 215 weeks of TTD benefits, leading up to a PTD award for a claimant about 30 years old. What is also striking is following the accident claimant obtained an M.B.A., although his vocational expert concluded despite his many transferrable job skills he was vocationally untouchable.