A 52-year old teacher in Bayambang Pangasinan was granted Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP) benefits after sustaining a work-related sickness that caused her to retire from her teaching profession.
Medical records revealed that sometime in 1992, the said teacher was diagnosed to be suffering from moderate and persistent Allergic Rhinosinusitis. Consequently, she had a series of confinements and medical consultations due to chronic nasal congestion and obstruction associated with sneezing and watery eyes.
On October 7, 2016, she filed a claim for disability benefits at the GSIS Dagupan Regional Branch. Her claim was denied on the ground of prescription. The GSIS reckoned the counting of the three-year prescriptive period in 1992 or when her illness first became manifest. Further, the GSIS emphasized that there was no proof to show that the risk of contracting the illness was worsened by the nature of her employment.
However, further medical findings reveal that Allergic Rhinosinusitis could be triggered by allergens. Her medical certificate, moreover, showed that chalk dust and whiteboard marker fumes were the identified allergens.
In November 2016, the teacher retired due to her illness.
On appeal, the ECC ruled that the reckoning date should have started on the date of the teacher’s retirement on November 5, 2016 and not when her ailment first became manifest in 1992 as stated by the GSIS. As Board Resolution No. 11-04-10 states, “the prescriptive period for filing compensation claims should be reckoned from the time the employee lost his earning capacity, i.e., terminated from employment due to his illness and not when the same first became manifest.” Thus, the claim was filed within the three-year prescriptive period when the teacher filed her claim in 2016.
The teacher’s frequent exposure to dust and fumes of instructional materials such as chalk and whiteboard marker might have affected her health and such exposure might have resulted to the manifestation of symptoms of her Allergic Rhinosinusitis. Even her attending physician conceded that the ailment must have been directly caused by the nature of her duties as classroom teacher.
Thus, the case was reversed and the ECC granted the teacher’s claim for disability benefit plus reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical expenses that she incurred due to her work-connected illness considering that her ailment developed due to the allergens in her workplace.
EC claims for sickness or injury resulting in disability or death are filed at the SSS for the private sector and the GSIS for the public sector.