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Thompson & Horn (2006) 71 Cal.Comp.Cases 783, 784 (Appeals Board en banc) (Aldi).) A “threshold” issue has variously been described as “a substantial issue fundamental to the … claim for benefits,” “an issue critical to the claim for benefits,” or “an issue that is basic to the establishment of the ... right[] to benefits.” (Maranian, supra, 81 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1070, 1075 [65 Cal.Comp.Cases at pp. 651, 655]; Aldi, supra, 71 Cal.Comp.Cases at p. 784.)4 If a WCAB decision resolves a “threshold” issue, then it is a “final” decision, whether or not all issues are resolved or there is an ultimate decision on the right to benefits. (Milbauer, supra, 127 Cal.App.4th at p. 642 [70 Cal.Comp.Cases at p. 326]; Aldi, supra, 71 Cal.Comp.Cases at p. 784.)

Here, the question of whether the AMA Guides portion of the 2005 Schedule may be rebutted is a “threshold” issue that is “fundamental,” “critical,” and “basic” to the issue of permanent disability benefits. Therefore, we will treat our February 3, 2009 decision as a “final” order. (Cf. Aldi, supra, 71 Cal.Comp.Cases at p. 784.)

Having determined that our February 3, 2009 decision is a “final” order, we will grant the petition for reconsideration filed by SCIF in Almaraz. Taking into consideration the statutory time constraints for acting on SCIF’s petition (Lab. Code, § 5909), we conclude that reconsideration must be granted to afford us a sufficient opportunity to study the issues raised in SCIF’s petition – as well as in applicant’s answer – so that we may issue a just and reasoned decision.

We also will grant reconsideration on our own motion in Guzman. (Lab. Code, § 5911; see also §§ 5900(b), 5315.) Because our February 3, 2009 en banc decision related to both Almaraz

4 Examples of “threshold” issues include: whether there was an industrial injury (Pointer, supra, 104 Cal.App.3d at pp. 533-534); whether an injury should be statutorily presumed to be compensable (Maranian, supra, 81 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1070, 1080-1081); whether there is an employment relationship between the injured claimant and the defendant (Taylor, supra, 147 Cal.App.3d at p. 1036); whether the employee’s claim is barred by the statute of limitations (Kaiser Foundation Hospitals v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Kramer) (1978) 82 Cal.App.3d 39, 45 [43 Cal.Comp.Cases 661]); whether the WCAB has personal or subject matter jurisdiction (Rea v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Milbauer) (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 625, 642 [70 Cal.Comp.Cases 312] (Milbauer); Dept. of Justice v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Jones) (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 194, 198 [54 Cal.Comp.Cases 298]); whether the defendant can be relieved of some or all of its workers’ compensation liability by receiving credit for monies the employee received outside the workers’ compensation system (Graham v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1989) 210 Cal.App.3d 499, 503 [54 Cal.Comp.Cases 160]; Kosowski v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1985) 170 Cal.App.3d 632, 636 [50 Cal.Comp.Cases 427]); and whether an expert witness should be permitted to testify. (Grupe Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (Ridgeway) (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 977, 980-981 [70 Cal.Comp.Cases 1232].) Also, dismissing a party, rejecting an affirmative defense, terminating liability, or determining insurance coverage may constitute “threshold” issues. (Maranian, supra, 81 Cal.App.4th at p. 1075; Rymer, supra, 211 Cal.App.3d at p. 1180.)

ALMARAZ, Mario & GUZMAN, Joyce

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