Unemployment compensation stopped? Considering Workers’ Compensation? A worker may be disabled from the regular duties of their work, but otherwise be available for lighter or modified work. Unemployment compensation is payable under such circumstances. The definition of disability under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act t has resulted in the rule that it is not necessarily inconsistent for a claimant to receive both workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation at the same time.
However, the 1993 amendments, section 204 (a), to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provide for a set-off of unemployment benefits in the case of a later award of workers’ compensation. In other words workmens compensation is reduced by unemployment received.
A long time disputed issue in the past has been whether an unemployment compensation determination with regard to willful misconduct collaterally estops (prevents) an employer in workers’ compensation from arguing that the claimant has suffered renewed loss of earning power due to fault and thus no workmens’ compensation benefits are payable. This comes up when a claimant has been injured and has received workmens’ compensation but then has returned to work on a suspension or modification of benefits. The claimnat is then discharged for some alleged fault of the claimants. The claimant seeks out unemployment compensation and receives a determination from an unemployment compensation referee to the effect that compensation is payable because the claimant did not commit ‘willful misconduct.’ The claimant then also files for workmens compensation.
In the workmens compensation forum the claimant must prove that his loss in earning are due to not fault of their own and that their disability continues. Often a claimant will argue that the unemployment decision prevents the employer or workmens compensation insurer from arguing fault. This was resolved in the mid to late 1990’s where the higher courts held that an unemployment decision to the effect that a claimant did not commit willful misconduct did not prevent the employer from arguing that a claimant’s recurrent loss of earnings was due to claimants’ fault. Thus if you get hurt at work, and return under a suspension or modification and subsequently lose your job but not due to willful misconduct under unemployment standards an employer or insurance company can still try to deny a reinstatement of workers compensation benefits allegedly you lost your job to your own fault unrelated to your injury not entitling you to workmens compensation.
Call Dugan & Associates today with questions at 888-99-DUGAN.