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About Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC)


This page contains information about the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC).



Who is the head of DWC?

The Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner is the head of DWC. The Governor of the State of Iowa appoints the Commissioner, subject to confirmation by the State of Iowa Senate. The Commissioner serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The Commissioner must be a lawyer admitted to practice law in Iowa. 

Gov. Terry E. Branstad appointed Commissioner Cortese. He was confirmed by the Iowa Senate, and serve a full term from 2015 through 2021.  In 2021, Gov. Kim Reynolds re-appointed Commissioner Cortese at the end of his term and the Iowa Senate confirmed him.

Commissioner Cortese was a lawyer in private practice for over 30 years prior to his appointment. Before becoming Commissioner, he practiced workers’ compensation law at the Des Moines law firm formerly known as Huber, Book, Cortese & Lanz, where he was a partner.

Commissioner Cortese received his Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and earned his J.D. with honors from Drake Law School. He is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association, Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, and was a founding member of the American Academy of ADR Attorneys.

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What is DWC?

DWC is a division within the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing (DIAL), a State of Iowa government agency. It performs the following services:

  • Administers the Iowa workers' compensation system
  • Serves as the neutral tribunal in Iowa workers' compensation cases

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Does DWC pay work comp benefits?

No, DWC does not pay work comp benefits.

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How does DWC resolve disputes about work comp benefits?

Generally, an injured worker will start a contested case by filing a petition with DWC. A neutral deputy workers' compensation commissioner will preside over the case. DWC will hold a hearing at which all parties will have the opportunity to present evidence. After the hearing, the deputy will issue a decision. All parties have the right to appeal the deputy's decision to the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner.

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Can DWC provide legal advice or representation?

As a divison of a state agency charged with administering the workers' compensation system and serving as the neutral tribunal for work comp disputes, DWC cannot:

  • Give legal advice to parties
  • Represent a party
  • Refer a party to an attorney

DWC will work to ensure that all parties get a fair hearing regardless of whether the party is represented by an attorney. You should seriously consider getting legal advice or representation if you are a party to a work comp case.

DWC has resources on its website to help you get legal advice or find an attorney to get legal advice.

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How does DWC enforce Iowa workers' compensation law?

DWC compliance administrators are the agency's representatives on compliance issues. 

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How do you file a First Report of Injury (FROI) with DWC?

You may file a FROI with DWC using the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

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How do you file documents in a contested case before Dwc?

A party or the party's attorney must use the Workers' Compensation Electronic System (WCES) to electronically file (eFile) documents in cases before the agency.

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Does DWC approve settlements of work comp claims?

Yes, DWC must review and approve the settlement of a work comp claim to ensure it complies with Iowa law.

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Does DWC pay unemployment insurance benefits?

No, DWC does not pay unemployment insurance benefits. DWC has no role in the Iowa unemployment insurance system.

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) administers the Iowa unemployment insurance system, including payment of unemployment insurance benefits.

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