Partner and practicing Delaware County workers’ compensation attorney William E. Malone, Jr. recently received a favorable decision from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania regarding a developing area of the law. In the case of Jean Fitchett v. WCAB (School District of Philadelphia), 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 95 (Pa. Commw. 2013), it was successfully argued that the Claimant voluntarily removed herself from the workforce based upon “totality of circumstances”, entitling employer to a suspension of benefits.
The Claimant had argued that the correct definition of “retirement” should have been her inability to return to her pre-injury job; however, the Commonwealth Court correctly noted that this was a misinterpretation of the law, and that she bore the burden of proving that her work injury precluded her from returning to any job in the workforce.
The court also rejected Claimant’s allegation that her Due Process rights were violated due to the Workers’ Compensation Judge issuing an order allowing the employer to take credits and offsets based on claimant’s receipt of pension and Social Security Retirement. However, the court pointed to 34 Pa. Code Section 123.4, which allows employer to take a credit unilaterally.