Workers’ Comp In-Cites
Welcome to the latest edition of Schaff & Young's Workers' Comp In-Cites. Designed to provide our clients with practical insight, Workers' Comp In-Cites outlines recent developments in Pennsylvania workers' compensation law and explains how those decisions impact our clients and their cases. Barbara Young, Michael Schaff and the other attorneys at Schaff & Young, P.C. are always available to discuss these cases – or any other questions or concerns you might have. Just give us a call at (215) 988-0090 or send an email to We look forward to hearing from you.

Actuarial Testimony Admissible to Establish Amount of Pension Offsets

When seeking a pension offset, an employer may present actuarial proof of the extent of the employer funding, rather that proof of actual contributions, sufficient to calculate the amount of the pension benefits offset, according to the Commonwealth Court in School District of Philadelphia v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Davis). In addition, an employer satisfies its burden to prove its contributions if a WCJ finds the actuarial testimony credible.

January 2012 Edition
Volume VI
Number 1

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Pre-Existing Conditions Are Compensable If The Condition Was Made Symptomatic by Work

In City of Philadelphia v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Whaley-Campbell), the Commonwealth Court ruled that an employer is not entitled to a termination of benefits when the condition from which the claimant suffers - in this case, chronic conjunctivitis that was specifically caused by employment-related conditions - was directly caused by the claimant's employments and further exposure would result in recurrence of the condition.

Medical Expert Testimony Does Not Have to Use Specific Words

That’s the holding in Bemis v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Perkiomen Grille Corp.), in which the Commonwealth Court ruled that a medical witness' use of words such as "certainly could have," "probably" and "very likely" does not necessarily render the opinion as equivocal. Provide the testimony, read in its entirety, is unequivocal, i.e., after providing a foundation, the expert testifies that he believes or thinks the fact exists, it is legally sufficient to establish a causal relationship between a work injury and subsequent medical condition.

Social Security Benefits Offset Are Constitutional

Because Social Security benefits, in general, replace the wages of an employee who has retired, offsetting Social Security benefits by the percentage contributed by the employer is rationally related to the purpose of the Workers' Compensation Act. Therefore, the "old age" offset provision under Section 204(a) of the Act does not violate Article I, Section I of the Pennsylvania Constitution on the basis of age. So said the Commonwealth Court in White v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (City of Pittsburgh). The Court noted that that Social Security Act clearly distinguished between old age benefits and widow's benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 402(a), (e). Therefore, it follows that the offset allowed pursuant to Section 204(a) of the Act only applies to the portion of the benefits available to a claimant under Section 402(a) of the Social Security Act, or old age benefits.

Reinstatement of Benefits Appropriate if Claimant Can Not Perform the Pre-Suspension Job

In Allen v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Delaware County SPCA, Inc.), the Commonwealth Court ruled that a claimant's benefits are suspended because of a voluntary termination of employment, the benefits may be reinstated if the claimant can prove a change in his or her condition such that the claimant can no longer perform the job that served as a basis for the suspension.

Home Equipment Not Compensable Per Se – Reports Not Always Objectionable in Not on Proper Form

The Commonwealth Court addressed two issues in Commonwealth, Dept. of Transportation v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Clippinger). First, the Court held that a home therapy pool and an addition to house the pool are not orthopedic appliances, i.e., an indispensable devise necessary to accommodate a work-related injury, under Section 306(f.1)(1)(i) of the Act, when the claimant is (1) sufficiently mobile to work full-time and travel to a physical therapy facility, (2) there is a viable alternative to a new in-home pool, and (3) alternatives to new construction of the building were not considered. The Court also ruled that if an employer does not require medical reports for all instances for payment of services, the employer cannot argue that Claimant's failure to submit written reports to the employer's insurance carrier excuses an employer from penalties for failure to pay bills.