Leave it to our government. Not only are they compiling records of all our phone calls, political leanings, internet searches,  personal sanitation practices, frequent flyer miles and recycling habits, but now we know that when a claim is filed for loss of consortium, they want to know that too. At least that is the case when an MSA is involved.

Attorney Heather Schwartz published an article on WorkersCompensation.com yesterday discussing a case where a woman was compelled to reveal her Social Security Number in order to complete an injury settlement involving her husband. It is a very technical tale, and I have a very short attention span, but as best as I can gather the court decision she reviewed resulted in support of the government's intention that any loss of consortium claim that is associated with a settlement must be declared and included with that settlement request. The court determined that the woman must reveal her social security number even if she was not the primary injured in the case.  Her claim was considered part of the settlement, even though she had not been party to medical treatment. Schwartz mentions in the article that the decision is “in line with CMS' guidelines and their most recent User Guide requiring the reporting of loss of consortium claims”.

I had no idea there was a User Guide Regarding Loss of Consortium Claims. Those people think of everything. They essentially have an engagement protocol for those who can no longer, well, engage. The loss of consortium claim is a difficult one to deal with. It is an intensely personal issue that is difficult to discuss, and even more difficult to verify. And an injury isn't the only thing that could lead to this problem.

Some would say that marriage itself is a major cause of loss of consortium. If that is in fact true, than any injury that leads to a loss of consortium claim might in fact be considered contributory, rather than primary, in the claim. That could wreak havoc in those jurisdictions that require predominant rather than contributory causes. “Yes, Ms. Smith, you can no longer be intimate with your husband, but honestly, weren't you sick of looking at him already?” This could get both confusing and embarrassing very quickly, and just when MSA's seemed to be gaining clarity and were easily understood by all.

Thank God our government has a User's Guide to show us the way.

The reality of course is that the guide's true purpose in these cases is to clarify that someone cannot withhold their social security number and still expect a settlement payout. Seems kind of silly, because with everything we've been learning in the last few weeks about our government's activity, it would seem they already know your social security number. Maybe they just want to hear you say it. After all, that is what the User Guide dictates.

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