By Clifford Sobin, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation Commissioners are nominated by the Governor. The Maryland Senate must then approve the appointment. Their appointment is for twelve years unless a Commissioner leaves office before their term is up. If so, the new replacement Commissioner only serves for the remainder of that term. After a Commissioner’s term expires, the Commissioner must be reappointed by the Governor to serve a new twelve year term.
Commissioners must devote their full time efforts to their job. Therefore, they may not:
- Practice law
- Hold another political position
- Do any business or other activity that interferes with their ability to serve the citizens of Maryland as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner
Commissioners are paid the same amount as a District Court Judge except for the Chairman who receives an additional $1500.00
There are a total of nine Commissioners. Each Commissioner must be a licensed attorney. There is no requirement that they must have practiced Workers’ Compensation law before their appointment although that is frequently the case. In fact, many outstanding Commissioners have had experience in other areas; including litigation, the legislative process and advisory or management capacities.
Generally, each Commissioner has scheduled before them approximately twenty cases a day, of which, ten to fifteen are heard in a hearing. Since many of their decisions involve tens of thousands of dollars, they have a significant impact on Maryland’s economy and the plight of injured workers.
At times retired Commissioners will hear cases. This occurs due to retirements, illnesses vacation, etc. Since the Commission Chairman’s priority is to make sure that scheduled cases are heard, retired Commissioners provide an important “reserve” force. The most significant requirements for eligibility for recall are that a retired Commissioner must have served for at least three consecutive years and that the retired Commissioner may not serve more than 120 working days in a calendar year.