Benefits: Lump Sums: Generally

Barnard v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 2008 MT 254, 345 Mont. 81, 189 P.3d 1196 When § 39-71-741(1), MCA, is read in its entirety, the statute limits lump sum conversions to $20,000 only if the requested conversion to a lump sum constitutes a part of the permanent total disability benefit. Section 39-71-741(1)(c), MCA, does not limit to $20,000 a lump sum payment of the whole of a permanent total disability benefit.
Siaperas v. State Fund [01/15/04] 2004 MT 264N Attorneys fees are not necessities of life under section 39-71-741(1)(c), MCA (1995), to allow claimant to demand lump sum payment from insurer to cover attorneys fees. (Note: Siaperas is a non-citeable opinion.)
Martin v. The Hartford, 2004 MT 57 Lump sum distributions of permanent total disability benefits have always been the exception to the rule that favors periodic payments. Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation statutes requiring discount of lump sum conversions to present value, relieving an insurer of liability when claimant becomes eligible for social security retirement benefits, and general availability of social security disability benefits to disabled workers does not justify changing the general rule.
Benhart v. Liberty Northwest [01/25/08] 2008 MTWCC 6 Where Petitioner’s debts consist of monthly payments on a truck, boat, and 4-wheeler which were all purchased subsequent to his industrial injury, and where the monthly payment on the boat alone exceeds his household budget’s monthly shortfall, Petitioner does not meet the statutory criteria of § 39-71-741(1)(c), MCA, which would entitle him to convert his PTD benefits to a lump-sum payment.
Sanchez v. Montana State Fund [06/22/07] 2007 MTWCC 25 Lump sum conversions of PTD benefits must be the exception and may be approved only if the worker has demonstrated financial need that relates to the necessities of life, an accumulation of debt incurred prior to the injury, a feasible self-employment venture, or financial need which arises subsequent to the date of injury because of reduced income as a result of the injury. Where Petitioner’s expenses include high-interest credit cards at or near their limits, loan payments on multiple motor vehicles, and excessive discretionary spending, he has not demonstrated financial need for a lump sum conversion.
Barnard v. Liberty Northwest [10/20/06] 2006 MTWCC 35  If this Court were to disallow a lump-sum conversion merely because a portion of it would be used to pay the claimant’s attorney pursuant to the contingent fee retainer agreement, the absurd result would be that only pro sé litigants could seek lump-sum conversions since those represented by counsel would have entered into a Department-approved contingent fee retainer.
Barnard v. Liberty Northwest [10/20/06] 2006 MTWCC 35 The Department’s interpretation of § 39-71-741, MCA, gives meaning and effect to § 39-71-741(1)(c), MCA, by concluding that the legislature would not have stated that the lump-sum conversions “in part” are limited to $20,000, while elsewhere in § 39-1-741(1), MCA, granting the Department and this Court the authority to allow lump-sum conversions “in whole or in part” with no pre-set limitation.
Miller v. Sears [12/12/05] 2005 MTWCC 54 Where the petitioner and his wife testified that they had been drawing on the petitioner's wife's retirement to make ends meet and that the petitioner and his disabled mother were finding it increasingly difficult to live in the rental house which did not accommodate their disabilities, the petitioner demonstrated that a lump-sum conversion of his PTD benefits was in his best interests.
Siaperas v. State Fund [1/15/04] 2004 MTWCC 4 Attorney fees are not a "necessity of life" for which a lump-sum advance can be made. § 39-71-741(3), MCA.
Martin v. Hartford [4/4/03] 2003 MTWCC 25 Assuming the law in effect in 1999 permits full lump-sum conversion of all future permanent total disability benefits, where claimant is doing well financially on his biweekly benefits in that his monthly income exceeds his expenses; where he has money coming in which will pay for extraordinary expenses; and where he is still able to financially assist his adult children and take vacations, he has failed to show that a lump-sum conversion of his permanent total disability benefits satisfies either the traditional best interests test or the criteria of section 39-71-741(1)(c), MCA.
Martin v. Hartford [4/4/03] 2003 MTWCC 25 Building an estate and obtaining money for investment are not legitimate purposes for obtaining a lump sum.

Ward v. Plum Creek Manufacturing [8/13/97] 1997 MTWCC 46 Contrary to the insurer's argument, there is no requirement in section 39-71-741(2), MCA (1993) that claimant provide justification to the insurer for a lump sum request for permanent partial disability benefits. The only criteria mentioned is whether a settlement amount is inadequate.

Blowers v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [5/19/97] 1997 MTWCC 25 Claimant’s credibility was undermined where she did not state in deposition and trial testimony that she was joint tenant on property with her parents, which was material to Court’s inquiry whether claimant was entitled to lump sum advance of death benefits.
Blowers v. Montana Ins. Guaranty Association [10/15/96] 1996 MTWCC 64 While section 39-71-721, MCA (1985), provides that a lump sum of two years of benefits must be paid to a widow who remarries, with no further benefit entitlement, that section does not limit the conversion of benefits corresponding to more than two years in a situation where remarriage has not occurred. Section 39-71-741(1), MCA (1985) provides that "biweekly benefits...may be converted, in whole or in part, into a lump-sum payment." However, in considering the widow's request for an order that benefits be converted, the Court will consider the rule of section 39-71-721, MCA (1985) and the possibility of remarriage.
Evans v. State Fund [5/30/96] 1996 MTWCC 39 In this old law case, guidance on lump sum conversion comes from Sullivan v. Aetna Life & Casualty, 271 Mont. 12, 894 P.2d 278 (1995), wherein the Supreme Court reiterated that biweekly benefits are the general rule, but a lump sum conversion may be done when in the claimant's best interests. A lump sum advance for payment of debts may be in a claimant's best interests but the mere fact that the claimant has indebtedness is not sufficient grounds. Here, claimant's explanations regarding his indebtedness were not satisfactory and he appears simply unable or unwilling to manage his money. Claimant did not provide the Court with a credible accounting of income and expenses, nor a reasonable plan for the future. [Note: this decision was affirmed by the Montana Supreme Court in Evans v. State Compensation Ins. Fund, No. 96-329 (1996), an unpublished, non-citeable opinion.]
Boharski v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. [12/15/95] 1995 MTWCC 105 Where court found claimant wholly incredible, and was not convinced he would spend lump-sum advance as he claims (to build heated garage, purchase sofa bed, furniture, and stove, and insulate house), request is denied, except for those amounts to which insurer already agreed.
Blowers v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [02/28/95] 1995 MTWCC 15 Where widow of deceased worker seeks lump sum conversion of benefits on behalf of herself and her minor child, she must present lump-sum proposal to respondents detailing her demand and the economic justifications for the lump-sum request.
Stermitz v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [04/06/95] 1995 MTWCC 1A Where no lump sum request was made in petition demanding permanent partial disability benefits, and the Court has already rendered judgment that claimant receive biweekly permanent partial disability benefits, if claimant wants a lump sum payment, he must file a new petition with that request. In telephone conference with the Court, counsel agreed the request would be presented to the insurer, promptly considered, and, if denied, a new petition would be filed in this Court.