Tuesday, July 08, 2003

S&A Benefits Are Included in Average Weekly Wage Calculation

T. Shire, Jr. v. WCAB (General Motors) is a case in which the Claimant received sickness and accident benefits for a non work-related condition in the year before the work injury. The WCJ excluded the S&A benefits from the Average Weekly Wage calculation and the Board affirmed, reasoning that S&A benefits are a fringe benefit like pension contributions or payment for life insurance. The Commonwealth Court reversed, and found the S&A benefits are includable in the AWW in the same manner as vacation pay or bonuses.

The Court then remanded for the WCJ to include "sickness and accident benefits for days missed from work" in the AWW calculation. The Court did not state the S&A amount should be included in the quarter in which it was paid, as opposed to the statutory treatment of vacation pay or bonuses, which is to divide the amount by 52 and add the result to the AWW calculated without the bonus amount. The Court did, however, cite Colpetzer for the premise that the intent of Section 309 of the Act is to establish an average weekly wage that reasonably reflects the reality of the Claimant's pre-injury earning experience as a predictor of future earning potential.

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