Thursday, October 25, 2007

L&I Offers Policy Search Via Internet

Information on workers compensation coverage for Pennsylvania employers is available at PA Employer WC Insurance Info on L&I's web site. The search will show the current insurance carrier and the coverage history.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Commonwealth Court Holds Expense Reimbursement Should Be Included in AWW

In T. Lennon, Dec', et al. v. WCAB (Epps Aviation, Inc.), the Claimant, an airplane pilot, received expense reimbursement for board and lodging from his employer. Claimant’s Counsel argued these amounts should be included in the average weekly wage calculation under Section 309(e) of the Act on the basis that they represent payments for board and lodging.

The WCJ denied the request to include reimbursed board and lodging expenses. The rule prior to this case was that board and lodging expenses are included in the average weekly wage only when a daily or weekly advance is paid to the claimant. These are reimbursements made under a nonaccountable plan and are therefore wages subject to withholding and employment taxes. Expense reimbursements paid to an employee under an accountable plan are exempt from withholding and employment taxes, and under the prior rule these were not included in the AWW.

The Board affirmed the WCJ’s decision, but the Commonwealth Court reversed. The Court stated according to the plain language of the statute, these amounts are includable in the average weekly wage. If there are policy considerations underlying the prior rule, the statute should except board and lodging reimbursement.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Commonwealth Court Reinforces Principle That Average Weekly Wage Calculations Should Be Made According To The Act’s Provisions.

In Lahr Mechanical, et al. v. WCAB (Floyd) the WCJ accepted the Claimant’s testimony about his expected wages and hours to make a Section 309(d.2) average weekly wage calculation. The Claimant testified he expected the prevailing rate. The Claimant was actually paid at three different rates: local, prevailing and overtime.

On appeal by the Employer, the Board averaged the Claimant’s rates. This resulted in a slightly lower AWW than the one found by the WCJ.

The Court reinstated the findings of the WCJ. Recent cases have allowed average weekly wage calculations outside the framework of the Act’s provisions, but the preferred disposition is to make findings of fact that allow a calculation within the framework of Section 309, as the WCJ did in this case.

Article Reporting Medicare Delays in New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Settlements

This Star-Ledger article reports on the history and development of CMS reviews of workers’ compensation settlements and the delays in processing these reviews. It is a very complete overview of the issue.
Thanks to WCJ David Torrey

Elizabeth Crum Elected President of IAIABC

Liz Crum, Deputy Secretary of Compensation and Insurance, was elected President of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions. The IAIABC’s mission is to advance the administration of workers’ compensation systems throughout the world through education, research, and information sharing.