One of the pitfalls in the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is the concept of “withdrawal from the labor market.” Without intending to do anything but receive additional income, an injured worker in PA can easily cause his or her workers’ compensation benefits to stop accidentally. This is one of the many reasons we urge every injured worker to have the representation of an attorney Certified as a Specialist in Workers’ Compensation law (as are both of the attorneys at Brilliant & Neiman LLC).
A recent decision from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Hi-Tech Flooring, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Santucci), reminds us of the perils of an alleged “withdrawal from the labor market.” Here, the injured worker suffered what was initially accepted as a “right knee contusion.” Later litigation expanded the injury to a more accurate injury description of “ongoing progressive degenerative changes of the right knee as a result of the August 18, 2014 work incident.”
A few years after the injury, seeking to have additional income, the injured worker filed for pension benefits from his union and filed for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Each application was accepted. The decision approving the SSD application noted that Claimant had the following ailments or conditions, “lumbar and cervical disc disease, status post C5-6 cervical discectomy and fusion; bilateral knee degenerative osteoarthritis, status post bilateral arthroscopic procedures; right hip degenerative joint disease; and status post total hip replacement.” According to the Court, the determination granting the SSD benefits did also mention “resulting synovitis in Claimant’s right knee and ongoing right knee pain.”