Can I receive unemployment after settling my workers’ comp? Part II

CommCtYou may remember that we addressed this issue in July 2014.  If not, you can read that article here.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has handed down a new case on March 9, 2016.  So has this changed the legal ground with reference to the settlement of a workers’ compensation case and subsequent entitlement to unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania?  The answer, no, not really.

As we stated in our previous post, Lee v. UCBR set the standard in cases where a resignation letter is signed as part of a workers’ compensation settlement.

When an employee resigns from employment, the burden to prove eligibility for unemployment falls to the employee to prove a necessitous and compelling reason for resignation. Specifically, in Lee v. UCBR, The Commonwealth Court made it quite difficult to meet that burden when voluntarily resigning as part of a workers compensation settlement.

This case did not change that case-law.

Essentially, if you resign as part of a workers’ compensation settlement, and your resignation effectively ends your light duty assignment, you are not going to be eligible for unemployment compensation.  If the employer is not accommodating your light duty and you’ve been asked to resign to settle your workers’ compensation, you should seek the advice of an experienced workers compensation attorney to protect and explain your right to both your settlement and unemployment compensation after settlement.

Never settle your case without the advice of counsel.  The rights under both Acts are simply to valuable to go it alone.  Fore a FREE consultation, call our law firm at 717-200-HURT or 1-877-632-4656.  Mooney & associates stands ready to protect and fight for you against the insurance carrier!  Don’t want to call or have time, then drop me an email at mab@mooney4law.com.

Can I receive Unemployment after Workers Compensation in Pennsylvania?

Settling a workers’ compensation case can be very frightening for an injured worker.  When is the right time?  What happens to my medical benefits?  What if my condition worsens?  What about outstanding medical bills?

Another question frequently asked centers around unemployment compensation.   Can an injured worker who settles his/her workers compensation claim receive unemployment compensation after settlement.  The answer is — possibly.   Workers compensation settlements and eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits usually revolve around two specific questions.

First hurdle applies to injured workers who have been off of work due to injury for a period of one or more years.   The issue that usually triggers a denial is the fact that after being off a year or more, unemployment compensation may have very little or no wage information to determine eligibility.   Since no or little wage information exists, unemployment compensation finds you to be financially ineligible.   The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act addresses this issue in Section 204(b).  The provision allows injured workers who have been out of work due to the work injury to elect to have their ‘base year’ consist of the four calendar quarters that immediately preceded the work injury work absence.   However, the issue must be raised on Appeal on the the Notice of Financial Determination.   It is best to have legal counsel represent you in your unemployment compensation appeal to raise appropriate issues to fight for your benefits.  Along with workers compensation, we here at Mooney & Associates also represent individuals in unemployment compensation appeals.

Just because you were off work due to injury does not mean you do not have the work credits to be eligible for unemployment compensation.  The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act (WCA) has addressed this issue in Section 204(b) which provides that an employee who does not meet the monetary and credit week requirements under section 401(a) of the Unemployment Compensation Law due to a work related injury compensable under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act may elect to have his base year consist of the four complete quarters immediately preceding the date of the work related injury.  This request should be raised within the appeal period identified on the Notice of Financial Determination.

The second trap usually involves the employment status of the injured worker at the time the workers compensation settlement occurs.  It is likely with most insurance carriers that an injured worker will be required to sign a resignation letter or general release when they settle their case.  When an employee resigns from employment, the burden to prove eligibility for unemployment  falls to the employee to prove a necessitous and compelling reason for resignation.  Specifically, in Lee v. UCBR, The Commonwealth Court made it quite difficult to meet that burden when voluntarily resigning as part of a workers compensation settlement.  The simplest way to protect right to unemployment compensation is to have the appropriate language in the settlement agreement as to not bar unemployment compensation benefits.  That is one reason, among many others, why it is absolutely imperative to seek legal counsel before agreeing to any workers compensation settlement.  For your FREE consultation, please contact our firm at 877-632-4656.

 

Injured at work and layoff in Pennsylvania

Often times, I get calls from injured workers, who return to work, and are then subsequently laid off due to slow down or job elimination.  It is a frequent occurrence.    The questions always revolves around the workers compensation issue and entitlement to benefits.

The more typical scenario here involves a plant or warehouse and a typical slowdown period where shifts are laid off.  Often, employers will instruct injured workers to apply for unemployment compensation benefits during the layoff period.  You may indeed need the unemployment if the employer refuses to reinstate you to full, temporary total disability benefits, which you would be entitled to, under the Act.

The key to this rule revolves around what type of work you were doing when laid off.  If you returned to work under restricted or light duty, and were laid off while working in that capacity, you are entitled to reinstatement to full wage loss benefits.  If you return to work to your pre-injury, regular job, but are still having effects of injury and treating, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits.

If your employer has informed you that they are not going to pay your Workers’ Compensation benefits, you will need to file a “Petition to Reinstate” benefits.   Simply call my office at 1-877-632-4656 or email me at mab@mooney4law.com to start that process.  You will need an experienced workers compensation attorney to litigate the Petition.

In the meantime, you are most likely eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits due to the lay-off from work. Your Unemployment Compensation benefits will eventually be credited toward any Workers’ Compensation Benefits you may receive as a result of your Petition to Reinstate, and the success of that Petition.  However, you are most likely to begin receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits quicker in order to help you with your current loss of income.

Call Mooney & Associates today to protect your workers compensation rights.  We represent injured workers in the following areas and those areas surrounding Greencastle, Chambersburg, Carlisle, Shippensburg, Gettysburg, Dillsburg, Hanover, York, and Harrisburg areas.

PA Unemployment rate rises .2 points

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate increased a slit .2 points.  The increase raises the unemployment rate from July of 7.9% to August 8.1%.

Here are the unemployment rate numbers for the areas we serve.

Adams County, Pennsylvania:  6.8%
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania:  6.8%
Franklin County, Pennsylvania:  6.9%
York County, Pennsylvania:  8.0%
Harrisburg-Carlisle Metro Combined Area:  7.4%