Wyoming Court Says Division’s Rule Setting Arbitrary Limitation on TTD Benefits Is Invalid

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27–14–404 limits awards of TTD benefits to twenty-four months, but gives the Wyoming Worker’s Safety and Compensation Division (the Division) discretionary authority to extend the time for those benefits in the event of “extraordinary circumstances.” The Division adopted a rule [Chapter 7, Section 2(b) of the Division rules] limiting any such extension of TTD benefits to a maximum of twelve months. After receiving the statutory maximum and the additional twelve months, the injured employee sought additional TTD benefits, which the Division denied. She filed a declaratory judgment action asking the district court to hold that the Division exceeded its authority when it limited the extension to twelve months. The district court concluded the Division indeed had exceeded its authority when it adopted a rule limiting TTD benefits to a total of thirty-six months under any circumstances and the Division appealed.

The appellate court, in State ex rel. Workforce Servs. v. Clements, 2014 WY 68, 2014 Wyo. LEXIS 72 (May 29, 2014) affirmed, indicating that the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used in the statute did not suggest that the legislature intended the Division to set a limit on TTD benefits, after which no TTD benefits could be awarded, no matter what the circumstances. The Division was wholly without power to modify, dilute or change in any way the statutory provisions from which it derived its authority.

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