In past blog posts, we have discussed the Uninsured Employers’ Guaranty Fund (UEGF). This is the safety net available for workers who have been injured while working for an employer who (in violation of Pennsylvania law) fail to carry PA workers’ compensation insurance. While the UEGF does give these injured workers an avenue to pursue to get wage loss and medical benefits, there are hurdles to clear which are not present with a typical PA workers’ compensation case.
Ordinarily, when a worker gets hurt in Pennsylvania, he or she simply files a Claim Petition and can seek benefits from the date of the work injury. When a claim is being made against the UEGF, however, one must first file a Notice of Claim Against Uninsured Employer (the form is LIBC-551). Unless the Notice is filed within 45 days of the injured worker knowing the employer failed to carry PA workers’ compensation insurance, no medical or wage benefits are payable until the Notice is filed.
Once the Notice is filed, the injured worker must wait at least 21 days to file a Claim Petition for Benefits from the Uninsured Employer and the Uninsured Employer’s Guaranty Fund (form LIBC-550). In contrast, there is no requirement (in a typical PA workers’ comp case) of waiting any time before filing a regular Claim Petition.
Up to now, these filings in UEGF cases could not be accomplished using the PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s computerized system, Workers’ Compensation Automation and Integration System (WCAIS). However, the Bureau recently announced that both the UEGF Notice of Claim, and the UEGF Claim Petition, can both be filed using the WCAIS system. While the area remains fraught with pitfalls for those unfamiliar with the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system, this step does make things much easier for those of us representing the injured worker in PA.