Once an injured worker in Pennsylvania begins to receive workers’ compensation benefits, an insurance carrier can only stop making those payments under certain circumstances. If the benefits are being paid under a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (NTCP), then the insurance carrier can simply withdraw the NTCP, issue a Notice of Denial (NCD) and stop paying unilaterally [As opposed to a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP), which cannot be withdrawn]. However, in most other circumstances, approval must be obtained either from the injured worker (typically by the execution of a “Supplemental Agreement”) or from a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ).
As with many rules, there are exceptions. If the injured worker returns to work, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier can file a Notification of Modification (if partial disability payments will continue) or a Notification of Suspension (if payments will stop totally). The injured worker has a chance to “challenge” either of these documents if he or she disagrees with the return to work (or the amount of wages in the return to work). If either of these documents is not challenged within the given time period, the document is treated as if the injured worker signed in agreement.
This challenge process was one of the issues in a recent decision from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Dixon v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Medrad, Inc.). The matter began when the employee suffered a neck injury, which was accepted as a cervical sprain (interesting enough, the description of injury was not expanded, yet disfigurement benefits were awarded for scarring from cervical surgery [a procedure one would not have for a mere “sprain]).