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.

Issuing Appropriate Documents Helps Avoid Penalties

In Zuchelli v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), the Commonwealth Court held that the WCJ’s denial of both a Claim Petition and a Penalty Petition was proper when the evidence concerning disability was controverted and the employer had issued a Notice of Compensation Payable, Notice of Compensation Denial, or Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable within twenty-one days of receiving notice of a work-related injury, and the work incident did not necessitate medical treatment, and did not cause disability related to the work incident.

February 2012 Edition
Volume VI
Number 2

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Social Security Offset is Constitutional

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the offset against disability benefits in Section 204(a) of the Workers' Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 71(a), for 50 percent of an individual’s Social Security retirement benefit, does not violate Equal Protection. So ruled the Commonwealth Court in Caputo v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania).

Reinstatement Not Appropriate for Claimant Who Leaves A Light Duty Job She Can Do

That’s the ruling of the Commonwealth Court in Verity v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Malvern School), in which the Court held that reinstatement of benefits is not appropriate when a claimant voluntarily leaves a light duty position even though the claimant was aware that she could perform the job. In this case, the claimant was aware that the restrictions placed upon her by her own physician were inaccurate and knowingly failed to correct the restrictions; thus, it was claimant's conduct, not the medical condition or the employer’s actions, that was responsible for the loss of employment.

500 Week Statute of Repose Bars Reinstatement of Benefits

In two cases, the Commonwealth Court affirmed that the 500-week statute of repose bars reinstatement of benefits for claims filed beyond the statutory period. In Cozzone v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (PA Municipal/East Goshen Township), the Court ruled that a claimant who has received 500 weeks of partial disability benefits under Section 306(b) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 512, is subject to the statute of repose set forth in Section 413(a) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 772, which requires a claimant to file a reinstatement petition within 500 weeks from the effective date of the suspension of benefits. The Court noted that, absent circumstances justifying application of the doctrine of equitable estoppel, a reinstatement petition filed outside of the 500-week period would be considered time-barred by the statute of repose. Similarly, in Palaschak v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (US Airways), the Court held that reinstatement of benefits was not appropriate under Section 413(a) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 772, when the Reinstatement Petition is filed more than 500 weeks after the date on which disability benefits were suspended.

Voluntary Withdrawal from Workforce When Claimant Has Disabling Non-Work Injury

In Burks v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (City of Pittsburgh), the Commonwealth Court ruled that when a claimant suffers from both a work injury and a non-work related medical condition, and the work injury does not prevent the claimant from working, the receipt of Social Security Disability benefits is evidence that the claimant is unattached to the workforce for reasons unrelated to the work injury, and has voluntarily withdrawn from the workforce, thereby entitling the employer to a suspension of benefits.