With the order by Judge Wu on the Angelotti case, the injunction on the $100 lien activation fee has been vacated, and the State of California will start accepting workers’ compensation lien activation payments starting Monday, November 9th.
If you’ve been the California workers’ comp industry for some time, this decision should come as no surprise. Medical providers and lien claimants have been dusting off old lien files, whittling down their eligible cases to the ones that are most probable to close, and bracing their accounting department in the past few months leading to this decision. Starting November 9th, medical providers and lien claimants will simply have to pay up that $100 activation fee in order to keep their old liens alive.
But for those lien claimants that are just beginning to do the mental math ($100 for every lien… 100 liens… $10,000?!) and gaping at the momentous stack of old lien files and not knowing where to start, it can be a bit of a daunting task, especially since lien claimants only have from November 9th to December 31st, 2015 to activate any eligible liens or else the liens will get dismissed.
Luckily, lien claimants have a few tools at their disposal. Here are 3 essential tools that will guide any lien claimant in activating their old work comp liens.
1. A Lien Activation Master-List
First, lien claimants need to know which liens require the $100 lien activation fee. Fortunately, the Division of Workers’ Compensation lays out which liens are eligible pretty simply: all liens filed prior to January 1, 2013 are subject to the lien activation fee.
Now, if your organization has a great filing and organizing system that’s been in place for the past few years, pulling up all California workers’ comp liens filed prior to January 1, 2013 could be as simple as filtering by filing date to generate a master-list of all liens filed in that period.
But if you have thousands of patient files, hundreds of workers’ comp case documents, and no easy way to generate a master-list of relevant liens, don’t panic just yet–there are a few easy (and free!) ways to generate a lien activation master-list.
EAMS Public Lien Search or Activation
The Lien Search or Activation tab in the EAMS Public Search Tool can pull up the first 200 relevant results under your Uniform Assigned Name (UAN). From there, it will provide the ADJ Case Number, the Lien Reservation Number, the Lien Amount, and a few other key details. Lien claimants can filter results even further by Lien File Date and Lien Status to filter out ineligible liens.
If you have more than 200 liens filed before January 1, 2013, filtering your search by three to four month periods for lien filing dates can overcome the pesky 200 result limit. For example, if a lien claimant has liens dating back to 2007 and filed heavily through to 2013, the lien claimant would search in blocks of a few months to generate the most results, e.g. Lien Filed Date From 01/01/2007 to 06/01/2007, and so on.
Third Party Lien Activation Master-List Generators
If you have a large amount of liens filed prior to January 1, 2013, you may not have enough time to search for the relevant liens by three month periods over the span of multiple years. There are a few third party lien activation master-list generators lien claimants can turn to that will generate this report for them.
A word of caution: be wary of third parties that require lien claimants to sign up with their company or charge for these lien activation master-lists. All the relevant workers’ compensation lien information is available to the public via EAMS (with a little elbow grease), and paying lien activation fees should be more of a priority than paying for a master-list of information that’s already available online for free. (We at DWC Exchange do compile these master-lists for our own clients as a courtesy, however, we’re not providing this service to others at this time.)
One great public service that can compile a lien activation master-list is the CSIMS Lien Finder, courtesy of the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery. Within 24 hours, lien claimants can have a full list of all eligible liens for any UAN. Lien claimants don’t need to create an account in order to access lien information, however, they do have to identify themselves when requesting access.
2. Quick Case Information
Once lien claimants have a list of all workers’ comp liens subject to the lien activation fee, it’s time to start perusing through case files. If prudent, your organization should have been preparing these cases for quite some time in order to know which cases are most probably to close and which cases are frivolous.
If lien claimants need quick information, such as the case parties, significant events, and more, on all of their eligible cases, searching in the EAMS Public Search Tool is one option to get such information. However, if you have a large amount of eligible liens, this quick information-gathering will prove time-consuming and inefficient when done through EAMS, as it only allows you to search cases one-by-one.
Your EDEX service vendor, thus, will be a valuable tool in getting you quick summaries of the workers’ compensation cases that are subject to the lien activation fees. Most EDEX service vendors provide case summaries with the most recent case information. For those who have been using an EDEX service vendor for all current liens, requesting such case summaries can be as easy as requesting all applicable ADJ numbers at one time.
For those without an EDEX service vendor, now might be the time to pursue EDEX services as having this tool in your corner can prove essential to providing information about your various work comp cases.
3. A Lien Activation Tool
Once lien claimants have a list of all subjected liens, examined the case files, and know the basic work comp case information, having a lien activation tool can ease the payment process significantly. Lien claimants can make their lien activation payments through the EAMS Public Search Tool through the Lien Activation tabs.
However, having a third-party lien activation tool may prove more efficient for lien claimants. Your EDEX and JETFile vendor should allow a method to activate any liens within their system. These third parties, such as DWC Exchange, can often provide a simpler and faster way to activate multiple liens at one time. The process for lien activation will vary from vendor to vendor, but it may be in a lien claimant’s best interest to activate liens through their third-party vendor for other reasons, such as the convenience of being able to activate liens within an existing platform that lien claimants already use to look up case information and file liens. Leveraging your software to its fullest capabilities can make the lien activation process smoother and less turbulent, if lien claimants use a platform already familiar to them.
Proper preparation for lien claimants to handle lien activation require months or even years of planning ahead of November 9th. But not all hope is lost if you’re a lien claimant that’s only beginning to prepare. With these three tools in place, a lien claimant can help assess their California workers’ compensation case files and activate their work comp liens more easily. And with only 53 days from November 9th to the deadline of December 31st, 2015, the more tools lien claimants have at their disposal to best maneuver lien activation, the better.