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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Can My Employer Really Modify or Terminate My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that covers injuries employees suffer while on the job. Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania typically pays for medical expenses related to the injury. It may also cover short-term or long-term disability benefits and other injury-related costs.

Because employers pay for workers’ compensation coverage, they typically take a keen interest in how the benefits are being used and for what purpose. This includes the termination of workers’ comp benefits. Pennsylvania allows an employer to challenge benefits awards in some instances by filing a Petition to Modify or a Petition to Suspend workers’ compensation benefits.

What Is a Petition to Modify or Suspend Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Both the Petition to Modify and the Petition to Suspend are legal documents that ask a workers’ compensation judge (WCJ) to reconsider your workers’ compensation wage benefits. Typically, an employer files this petition when they believe that you can work and earn a wage that is equal to or higher than your pre-injury wage. The petition asks the WCJ to hold a hearing so that your employer can present evidence in support of their belief.

What Happens After My Employer Files a Petition to Modify or Suspend Benefits?

The first notice you may receive about your employers’ attempt to modify or terminate your benefits is a copy of the petition itself. After you receive this petition, you may expect the following steps to occur:

  • You will receive instructions on how to file an “answer,” or a response to the petition. Your attorney can help you file an answer by the stated deadline.

  • The case will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge, and you will receive a Notice of Assignment telling you which judge has received the case.

  • The case may be scheduled for a hearing.

It is wise to contact an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible once you receive a copy of the petition. Your lawyer can help you understand how your specific benefits may be affected and can also help you prepare to defend your benefits at a hearing.

Will My Benefits Stop?

Your employer may not stop or reduce your benefits until the WCJ makes a decision in your case. The decision may be issued after the first hearing, or you may go through additional steps in the process.

After the first hearing, the judge may make one of several different types of decision:

  • The judge may decide you cannot earn a wage. Your benefits will likely continue at the same level you currently receive.

  • The judge may decide you can earn a wage, but that you can earn less than what you earned before your injury. Your benefits may be reduced to 2/3 the difference between what you used to earn and what you can currently earn.

  • The judge may decide you can earn a wage equal to or greater than the amount you earned before your injury. Your benefits may be terminated.

Working with an attorney offers you the best chance to defend your benefits. Bring a copy of the termination petition and notice of assignment to your meeting with your lawyer, and follow your lawyer’s instructions carefully.

If you or someone you know sustained a permanent impairment in the course of employment, talk to a worker’s compensation attorney to determine how best to approach your Schedule a consult with the Pennsylvania disability lawyers at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates today.


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