Monday, April 11, 2005

Commonwealth Court Explains When Permanent Does Not Mean Permanent

In N. Wieczorkowski v. WCAB (LTV Steel) the Commonwealth Court again held that permanent (injury) does not mean permanent when the Employer seeks to later terminate benefits. A Supplemental Agreement may provide that an employe's disability is permanent either to remove a public safety officer from entitlement to heart and lung benefits or, as here, in an agreed-upon commutation. The Commonwealth Court has held in the past that a Claimant's medical condition remains subject to review, even where permenant disability has been stipulated to.

In this decision the Court provided a clear frame of reference. When there is a question of permenancy of an injury such that further review would be precluded, the Court will first look back to the description of injury. If, for example, the injury is silicosis, permanent does mean permanent because medical science cannot presently reverse the disease process of silicosis. When the description of injury does not establish the condition is permanent under today's standards of medical science, the condition is subject to review and a finding of full recovery.

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