Once a stipulation agreement is approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, the employer generally has 20 days to make the payment. The question arises, then – if a payment is mailed, when does it have to be mailed to be considered timely?
The relevant statute provides for an assessment of a 20% penalty for failure to pay a stipulation within 20 days (O.C.G.A. Section 34-9-221(b)). The statute also provides that payments mailed from within the State of Georgia are considered timely made if they are mailed on the 20th day after the approval. Payments made from outside the state of Georgia are considered timely made if they are “mailed no later than three days prior to the due date to the address specified by the employee or the address of record according to the Board.”
The code used to read that the payment had to be received on the 20th day. The state legislature has since shanged that. The language of the statute was explored in Liberty National Life Insurance Co. v. Coley, 201 Ga. App. 203 (1991). In that case the Court compared the difference in the language of the statute and emphasized the fact that the revised language makes quite clear that a payment is “considered paid when mailed.” So if a payment is not received on the 20th day, it is not necessarily late.