This appeal arises pursuant to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, TEX. LAB. CODE ANN. § 401.001 et seq. (1989 Act). A contested case hearing was held on March 1, 2001. The hearing officer resolved the disputed issue by deciding that the appellant (claimant) is not entitled to supplemental income benefits (SIBs) for the seventh quarter. The claimant appealed and the respondent (carrier) responded.
The hearing officer’s decision is affirmed.
The hearing officer did not err in determining that the claimant is not entitled to SIBs for the seventh quarter. Eligibility criteria for SIBs entitlement are set forth in Section 408.142(a) and Tex. W.C. Comm’n, 28 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §. 130.102 (Rule 130.102). Rule 130.102(b) provides that an injured employee who has an impairment rating (IR) of 15% or greater, and who has not commuted impairment income benefits (IIBs), is eligible to receive SIBs if, during the qualifying period, the employee: (1) has earned less than 80% of the employee’s average weekly wage as a direct result of the impairment from the compensable injury; and (2) has made a good faith effort to obtain employment commensurate with the employee’s ability to work.
Rule 130.102(d)(4) provides that an injured employee has made a good faith effort to obtain employment commensurate with the employee’s ability to work if the employee has been unable to perform any type of work in any capacity, has provided a narrative report from a doctor which specifically explains how the injury causes a total inability to work, and no other records show that the injured employee is able to return to work. Rule 130.102(e) provides, in part, that, except as provided in subsection (d)(1), (2), (3), and (4) of Rule 130.102, an injured employee who has not returned to work and is able to return to work in any capacity shall look for employment commensurate with his or her ability to work every week of the qualifying period and document his or her job search efforts.
The parties stipulated that the claimant sustained a compensable injury on __________; that the claimant has a 15% IR; that the claimant did not commute IIBs; that the qualifying period for the seventh quarter was from July 21, 2000, to October 19, 2000; that the claimant did not make any effort to seek employment during the qualifying period; and that the claimant was unemployed during the qualifying period. The SIBs criterion in dispute is whether the claimant attempted in good faith to obtain employment commensurate with her ability to work during the qualifying period. Section 408.142(a)(4); Rule 130.102(b)(2). The hearing officer determined that the medical evidence did not specifically explain how the claimant’s injury caused a total inability to work during the qualifying period and that the claimant did not make a good faith effort to obtain employment commensurate with her ability to work during the qualifying period. The hearing officer is the sole judge of the weight and credibility of the evidence. Section 410.165(a). The hearing officer’s decision that the claimant is not entitled to SIBs for the seventh quarter is supported by sufficient evidence and is not so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and unjust.
The hearing officer’s decision and order are affirmed.
Robert W. Potts
Judy L. S. Barnes
Michael B. McShane