Maintaining Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Even After Returning to Work
When you’ve been hurt at work, there are various different types of workers’ compensation benefits you can receive. One type of benefit is an award you can receive even after going back to work and is based upon the reduction in earnings you suffered as a result of your injury. When you are seeking this or another type of workers’ compensation benefits, a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help in navigating the system and getting the full award to which you are entitled under the law.
For an example of a worker who obtained this type of benefit, there is a recent Commonwealth Court opinion in the case of Jesse, an employee at a machinery assembly facility. In May 2013, he injured the middle finger on his right hand. The employer acknowledged Jesse’s entitlement to temporary workers’ compensation benefits. Eventually, Jesse returned to work. The employer filed a request seeking to suspend the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits because, it argued, the worker had returned to his pre-injury job, and any loss in wages was a result of an economic downturn rather than the man’s work injury. The employer brought in evidence that its other employees who were “similarly situated” to Jesse were earning roughly the same wages he received after his return to work.
The law says that you, as a worker, can be entitled to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits even after you return to work in certain situations. To be eligible, you must continue to have an ongoing disability, you must have suffered a reduction in earnings at work, and your work-related disability must be the cause of that reduction in earnings.
The issue at the heart of Jesse’s case was the availability of overtime. Earning income from overtime hours can be an essential part of the overall earnings of some workers. A reduction or elimination of the opportunity to work overtime can put a substantial dent in a worker’s total earnings. In this worker’s case, there was no question that Jesse was getting less overtime. The key issue was why.
In any case like this, the employer is likely to come well-equipped with its arguments and proof. Jesse’s employer offered evidence that the reduction in overtime was a result of a conscious management decision to decrease the availability of overtime for all workers in order to cut the employer’s costs.
As an employee receiving benefits, it is essential to have strong proof of your own. Jesse had evidence that company policy allowed the employer to “skip,” or pass over, an employee for the opportunity to work overtime if that employee couldn’t “carry his shift,” which meant having the ability to perform all of the tasks of that job classification. Jesse could not perform certain duties of his job class due to his finger. In other words, the employer’s policy entitled it to skip Jesse for overtime, that skipping was due to his finger, and that lost overtime caused a reduction in his earnings. Based on this evidence, Jesse was able to win his case (and defeat the employer’s appeal) and continue to receive his workers’ compensation benefits.
If you’ve been hurt at work, contact the knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm. Our team can advise and represent you throughout the process in order to pursue the award you need. We have been providing knowledgeable representation and personalized attention to our clients for many years and are here to discuss your matter with you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.