A worker who is 90 years old with asbestosis in both lungs does not qualify for permanent total disability benefits, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The man, Robert Boyd, received workers’ compensation benefits for his asbestosis for 20 years after he stopped working at Scotts Miracle Gro Company in 1983. He filed a claim for total disability benefits in 2013.
Doctors who did a medical examination of Boyd for the company and the Industrial Commission of Ohio stated that he had a mild impairment from asbestosis that would not prevent him from doing light work. Ohio law states that permanent total disability is the lack of ability to perform sustained employment due to the condition noted in the claim.
During a hearing in 2014 before the industrial commission, Boyd stated that he worked several other jobs after he left Scotts. Records also showed that he had a clerical job with some driving work at an auto dealership until 2008.
Boyd filed an appeal to the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus OH. He argued that the doctor who looked him over was not properly qualified to check his condition as he failed to take x-rays and was not even certified to interpret x-rays if he had taken them. This is required for all asbestosis claims.
Boyd also stated that the commission had abused its discretion in the case by not using vocational evidence that was in the record. That included a report from a work consultant that supported the notion that Boyd should get permanent, total disability.
The 10th district court denied the complaint that would have required the commission to give him permanent total disability. Also, last week, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the appellate court was correct in its decision.
The OH Supreme Court found that Boyd had misread the requirement about which doctors may review asbestosis claims. The ruling also stated that the commission had not abused its discretion when the request was denied.
Many people are familiar with mesothelioma, which is a deadly cancer that one contracts from being exposed to asbestos. However, another even more common disease related to asbestos exposure is asbestosis. This is a chronic, pulmonary lung condition that has no cure.
Asbestosis occurs over time when the lungs are damaged and scarred by the asbestos fibers that entered the lungs. Asbestos fibers entering the lungs does not always cause cancer, but asbestosis is also a very serious disease that can lead to many serious health problems, and death can occur.
Common symptoms of asbestosis are:
- Shortness of breath, which will get worse over time. At first, you may only experience it after they work out, but it can eventually get so bad that you get short of breath after only walking or going up a flight of steps.
- Regular, persistent cough
- Fatigue and extreme tiredness
- Pain in the chest
- Swollen and clubbed fingers
One of the biggest problems with asbestosis is that it usually leads to other very serious health problems that can be deadly. When you have difficulty breathing for long periods of time, this causes the heart to have to work much harder. This extreme strain on the heart muscle can lead to heart failure over time.
If you think you may have asbestosis, you should be examined by a doctor immediately. Typically, the doctor will listen to your breathing with a stethoscope. You also may have an x-ray done, which will be carefully checked for any abnormalities, such as honeycomb or white appearance. Also, you may have a pulmonary function test done, which will measure how well the lungs are working.
Your doctor also may check the level of oxygen that is getting to your blood stream by your lungs. This can be checked with a CT scan.