In a recent appeal before the Workers Compensation Appellate Division, an employer/insurer argued that an ALJ erred in finding that an employee is entitled to “overlap” a 20% penalty for untimely payment of benefits payable under the terms of an award and a 15% penalty for untimely payment of benefits previously payable without an award. The Appellate Court disagreed with the employer/insurer and adopted the ALJ’s findings.
In an order dated May 2007, a previous ALJ awarded benefits and assessed a 15% penalty against the employer/insurer for untimely payment of benefits. When the employer/insurer did not pay the benefits awarded in May, the ALJ issued another award in November 2007 which assessed an additional 20% penalty for failure to pay benefits payable under the terms of the May order. The ALJ found that O.C.G.A. § 24-9-221 sections (e) and (f) set forth distinct and separate penalties for failure to make timely payment of benefits without and under the terms of an award. The Appellate Court agreed with the ALJ and found that O.C.G.A. §§ 24-9-221(e) & (f) are separate penalties that can be imposed upon the same award and are not duplicative.