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Liability for Treatment by Social Workers

Jul 21, 2015 | MAD News

WCL §13-f only permits treatment of workers compensation claimants by physicians or other qualified individuals authorized by the statute.  WCL §13-m(2)(a) identifies individuals who are considered qualified to provide psychological care to injured workers and limits that treatment to persons who are qualified licensed psychologist upon the referral from a physician.  Hence, the board has repeatedly held that social workers are not authorized medical providers under the WCL.

Nonetheless, social workers may treat and be paid for their services if performed under the direct supervision of a medical doctor/psychiatrist.  See Office of Children and Family, 2014 NY Wrk Comp G026 8017 (June 13, 2014).

What if the social worker performs the services under the supervision of a psychologist?

Whether bills for the treatment will be found compensable appears to hinge on whether the referral to the psychologist in the first instance complied with WCL §13-m(2)(a) .  That section requires that psychotherapy be initiated upon the referral of an authorized physician. As a result, where a chiropractor referred a claimant for psychotherapy, and a licensed social worker then treated the claimant under the supervision of that psychotherapist, objections to medical bills were found in favor of the carrier because a chiropractor is not an authorized physician pursuant to WCL §13-m(2)(a). See Bletsas Plumbing & Heating, 2014 N.Y.Wrk.Comp. G042 6651 (7/2/14).

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