Large NEL increase for homeless worker

This former truck driver was homeless and distressed. The WSIB reduced his payments from full loss of earnings (LOE) to partial because, according to the WSIB, the worker didn’t cooperate in a work transition (WT) program which it said would equip him to work in computer technical support. The WSIB said he could also work in customer service but had not applied for jobs as the WT program requires.

The worker suffered a severe injury to his right hand while unloading a truck. He received LOE payments and a 17 per cent non-economic loss (NEL) award for his permanent impairment.

The worker said he had applied for work, but that the WSIB didn’t believe him. He said he couldn’t do customer service or computer support because he had trouble dealing with people.

Assessments on file confirmed this, indicated that he was likely autistic, and suggested that there were underlying mental health problems. The Commission’s file review also found that the WSIB had not re-determined the NEL award as requested by the worker.

The Commission contacted a manager to discuss the worker’s request for help and for more services. The manager offered that if the worker was willing to cooperate, the WSIB would reassess his psychological condition and its effect on suitable occupations and return to work. Later, however, the manager told the Commission that the worker had refused an earlier offer of psycho-vocational assessment.

The manager referred the claim for an expedited NEL redetermination to consider the worker’s complex regional pain syndrome. As a result, the WSIB increased his NEL award to 37 per cent.

A lump sum for retroactive NEL payments was enough to cover the worker’s temporary housing costs. The WSIB advised the Commission that it would review suitable occupations.