The Workers’ Resource Centre provides practical tips for getting help with WCB claims, what to do if you disagree with a decision, and returns to work in Alberta.
The Workers’ Resource Centre (WRC) is a FREE agency that assists Albertans with filing claims, complaints and certain appeals for:
- Employment Insurance (EI)
- Employment Standards
- Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
- Workers’ Compensation Board benefits (WCB)
- Canada Pension Plan disability benefits (CPP-D)
- Canada Labour Code
- Human rights (Alberta Human Rights Commission and Canadian Human Rights Commission)
Have questions? Need support? Contact our Intake Coordinator at 403-264-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer in-person and virtual appointments.
One area we support workers in is applying for WCB benefits after being injured or becoming ill at work. Below are answers to the most common questions workers ask us about the WCB process.
Where can I find someone to represent me with my WCB case?
The WRC assists Alberta workers with work-related illnesses or injuries in filing initial WCB claims. We do not file WCB appeals. The reason for this is that there is an Appeals Commission that assists if you are not successful in your “request for review”. The Appeals Commission and the WCB are separate organizations that are independent from each other:
- Appeals Commission staff are Government of Alberta employees. They are not WCB staff.
- The Commissioners at the Appeals Commission who hear appeals and make decisions are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.
For this reason, the WRC does not want to duplicate existing services, so we focus on offering support in claims that do not have other avenues for assistance.
What can I do if I do not agree with WCB’s decision on my claim?
Under the WCB legislation, a WCB case manager will review your claim. If they accept it, they will determine what types of supports you require. Sometimes, an ill or injured worker may disagree with the WCB’s ruling. If you disagree with the WCB’s response, you have options:
- If you are unable to resolve your concerns with your adjudicator or case manager, you can request a formal review of the decision within one year of the decision date. After you submit the request, a supervisor will work with you towards a possible resolution.
- You can complete the request for review form online or request a paper version by calling the WCB contact centre.
Time limit for review
- You have one year from the date of your decision letter to submit a request for review. In some situations, the WCB may extend the time limit if it has been more than a year since the decision was made.
- The WCB Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB) will make a decision regarding your request for review. If you disagree with that decision, you may file a claim with the Appeals Commission.
What can I do if my case manager is threatening to cut off my WCB payments if I do not participate in their “return to work” program (even though I am not ready to go back yet)?
If WCB has determined you need to return to work (with modified duties or otherwise) as recommended by their medical team, you must try to perform the duties they are asking. Otherwise, you risk getting your payments or treatment cut off or suspended. If you go to work and cannot perform the job duties asked of you, you need to contact your WCB case manager and inform them of this. In certain circumstances, the ill or injured worker may request what is called an Independent Medical Exam (IME) if they feel the WCB physician is not being realistic about the job duties the worker is able to perform. A non-WCB physician conducts the IME. Their job is to assess your current functioning capacity regarding your ability to return to work.
Why is it so difficult to “fight” WCB?
WCB is a challenge because it is guided by provincial legislation but is also a private insurance company. Often, people feel the WCB is trying to cheat them out of benefits by not approving medical and financial requests for assistance. People are also suspicious of the appeals process as they feel the Appeals Commission is still tied to the WCB.
The WRC recognizes these concerns and has a few suggestions when dealing with the Appeals process:
- Keep in touch with your WCB case manager and follow their instructions.
- Keep documents and make notes of everything related to your WCB claim.
- Remain active in your recovery process by attending appointments and treatment as required.
There are some organizations that can assist ill or injured workers with WCB appeals, and they typically come with a cost. The WCB process is often long and frustrating. If you are frustrated with your experience, contact your MLA’s office to relay concerns and request changes to the program.
Want more information? Chance to participate in a PAID research study? The WRC has partnered with the University of Calgary to offer a series of free seminars on supporting ill or injured workers.
For Ill or Injured Workers:
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
7:00 – 9:00pm (via Zoom)
For Community Agency Workers:
Thursday, September 29, 2022
1:00pm – 2:30pm (via Zoom)
Looking for more information?
The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
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