Tuesday, April 12, 2005

United States Supreme Court Case in Sullivan is Relevant to Burden to Prove Pension Offset is Appropriate

AMERICAN MANUFACTURERS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, et al.,PETITIONERS v. DELORES SCOTT SULLIVAN et al., is the Supreme Court of the United States case which held there is no violation of due process when medical benefits go unpaid during the pendency of a utilization review.

The Supreme Court's analysis was that an employe is entitled to reimbursement of only "reasonable and necessary" medical expenses, so a property interest of the employe does not attach until the expenses are found "reasonable and necessary". In this manner the court distinguished this property interest from the property interest in wage indemnity benefits.

The Court holds wage indemnity benefits cannot be reduced without notice and a hearing:

"In Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), we held that an individual receiving federal welfare assistance has a statutorily created property interest in the continued receipt of those benefits. Likewise, in Mathews, supra, we recognized that the same was true for an individual receiving Social Security disability benefits. In both cases, an individual’s entitlement to benefits had been established, and the question presented was whether predeprivation notice and a hearing were required before the individual’s interest in continued payment of benefits could be terminated. See Goldberg, supra, at 261—263; Mathews, supra, at 332."

According to these precedents, predeprivation notice and a hearing are required before the employer can take a credit for a pension benefit that starts after payment of workers' compensation benefits has commenced.

The Bureau Regulations instead impose the procedure of the filing a Notice of Benefit Offset with a twenty day grace period and requiring the Claimant to file a Petition to Review Benefit Offset in response. This procedure can not shift the burden to the Claimant. The Supreme Court holding requires a hearing and accordingly places the burden on the moving party, the Employer, to show it is entitled to an offset in an amount calculated consistent with the terms of the Act.

No comments: