(1) The department may approve a petition for a lump-sum settlement between an insurer and an injured worker or the worker's beneficiary, which converts permanent disability biweekly payments to a lump-sum payment, in accordance with the provisions of 39-71-741, MCA.
(2) No department approval is required for a lump-sum payment of:
(a) accrued indemnity benefits;
(b) advance indemnity benefits; or
(c) an impairment award for a claim with a date of injury on or after July 1, 2005.
(3) The department presumes that biweekly benefit payments are in the best interests of the worker. Department approval of a petition for lump-sum conversion may be given only if the worker demonstrates that the worker's ability to become financially self-sustaining is more probable with a whole or partial lump-sum payment than with the biweekly payments and the worker's other resources, as outlined by ARM 24.29.1202.
(4) Conversion of biweekly permanent partial disability benefits to a lump sum must meet the requirements of (3) only when the claimant's date of injury was prior to July 1, 1991.
(5) Conversion of biweekly permanent total disability benefits to a lump sum must meet the test of (3) for all dates of injury.
(6) The workers' compensation court has jurisdiction over disputes between claimants and insurers regarding conversion of biweekly disability payments to a lump sum and disputes arising from the department's denial of approval of a petition for conversion. A dispute between an insurer and claimant is subject to mediation. A dispute arising from department denial of a petition for conversion is not subject to mandatory mediation.