Recurrence of hernia, compensable under the EC Program

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A 54 year old, resident of Cabuyao Laguna worked as a seafarer from January 1998 until February 2020. Since 2006, he was employed as a chief cook under different contracts by MAERSK Filipinas Crewing, Inc. In 2009, he suffered from Hernia but it was surgically repaired. On June 3, 2018, he sought for medical consultation at a hospital in China after he experienced difficulty in urinating with penile pain and a bulging scrotal mass. An ultrasound was performed with a diagnosis of Hernia.

On June 8, 2018, he was repatriated to the Philippines and was referred to the Marine Medical Services for further evaluation. He was confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center from June 19-22, 2018 and had undergone Hernioplasty on June 20, 2018.

In July 2018, he filed for EC disability benefits at the Social Security System (SSS) Calamba Branch, but it was denied because his Hernia was a pre-existing illness.

Upon review, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) ruled in favor of the seafarer.

Under the “Increased Risk” theory, an illness is compensable under the EC Program when the employee can show reasonable proof that his illness was caused by the nature of his work or working conditions.

According to the ECC, the seafarer’s duties as a chief cook for more than 10 years contributed to the recurrence of his hernia. His job entailed lifting of pallet with assorted meals that weighs around 30 kilos per box. Carrying heavy weights and performing other strenuous activities undeniably increased his risk of contracting hernia.

Thus, even if the appellant had previously suffered hernia and in fact, had undergone Hernioplasty in 2009, his working conditions and his functions as chief cook had provided a reasonable probability that his working conditions caused the recurrence of his hernia.

The seafarer was awarded disability benefits under the EC Program.

The Employees’ Compensation Commission, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), is tasked to review EC claims denied by the SSS and GSIS, on appeal



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