Case Law Update

August 26, 2011

In Vaughn v. WCAB (Carrara Steel Erectors), 19 A.3d 545 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2011),the Commonwealth Court examined whether an employer must provide a job description where it is offering a position to a claimant who has been released to return to work with restrictions. The Court found that the answer depends on whether the employer is offering a claimant the pre-injury position or a different position that falls within the claimant’s restrictions. Specifically:

 

  • If the claimant has not performed the job being offered, the employer must provide information related to the job duties and the classification, so as to allow the claimant to make an informed decision about whether he can perform the job;

  • If the claimant has previously performed the job, the employer does not have to specify the job description or duties because it can be reasonably presumed that the claimant is familiar with the requirements of the position.

 

In Upper Darby Township v. WCAB (Nicastro), the claimant signed a Stipulation agreeing that he was disabled for reasons that were not related to his work injury, which was approved by a WCJ. He later filed a Reinstatement Petition alleging that his work injury was causing his loss of earnings.

 

The Commonwealth Court found that the claimant had the burden to now prove that something had changed in his condition or circumstances after the WCJ adopted the Stipulation. Specifically, the claimant had to show that the non-work related injury was no longer disabling and that the work-related injury was causing his loss of earnings in order to reinstate his benefits.

 

In Horner v. WCAB (Liquor Control Board), No. 2155 CD 2010 (June 14, 2011), the injured worker opted for disability retirement status after his injury and began receiving a monthly disability pension. The employer sent a notice of pension benefit offset, reducing the claimant’ benefits. The claimant filed a review pension offset petition.

 

The Court found that an employer using a defined benefit plan does not need to show the actual contributions made to a specific account in order to obtain an offset, but can rely upon expert actuarial testimony to meet its burden. The case further discusses how an offset for pension benefits is appropriate only to the extent that the pension is funded by the employer directly liable for payment of compensation. The offset is dollar-for-dollar and is applicable to both defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans.

Select an attorney

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

If you get hurt on the job, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys will help you file your claim successfully.
Learn More

Social Security Disability

If you have a medical condition and can not work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.
Learn More

My Case Status for Existing Clients

All current clients have access to My Case Status. This website allows them access to check the status and progression of their case, update their information, securely send and receive medical and case-related documents, contact their legal team, and watch helpful videos.

Click here to access My Case Status.

Learn More