Employer doesn't have to issue notice for minor change in restrictions
Case name: Ashman v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Help Mates, Inc. and State Workers' Insurance Fund), No. 1429 C.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 01/11/10).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board's grant of the claimant's claim petition, including its modification of the claimant's benefits from total to partial.
What it means:
In Pennsylvania, the purpose of issuing a formal notice of ability to return to work is to require the employer to share new medical information about a worker's physical capacity to work and its possible impact on existing benefits. Formal notice is not required where a worker is actually performing work.
Summary: A home health aide injured her back in the course of her employment. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court determined that it was unnecessary for the employer to issue a formal notice when the aide's restrictions were slightly changed. The aide's claim petition modified her total disability benefits to a partial rate effective when she was released to return to sedentary work. The Commonwealth Court rejected the aide's argument that it was necessary for the employer to issue a "Notice of Ability to Return to Work" each time her restrictions were even slightly modified.
The court also rejected the aide's argument that the workers' compensation judge erred when he found that the employer was entitled to a modification of the aide's benefits as of the date she was released to return to sedentary duty. The aide argued the issuance of the notice was a threshold burden for modification, and it failed to issue the notice in each instance where her restrictions were modified. The court determined that requiring the employer to issue a notice for minor changes in the aide's restrictions would be superfluous considering that she was working.
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March 1, 2010
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