NTCP in PA Workers’ Comp Case Can Be Revoked if Done Within Five Days of Sending Check

We have discussed the Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (NTCP or TNCP) on this blog in the past.  This is a tool a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance carrier can use if it is still investigating and unsure whether to formally accept liability for a work injury in PA (instead of issuing a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP) or Agreement for Compensation).  Of course, as with many tools, it is most often misused and abused by insurance carriers, but that is a different blog for a different day.

The beauty of the NTCP for insurance carriers is that, within 90 days, the NTCP can be revoked, and the claim still denied.  A recent case in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dealt with the timing of this type of revocation.

In Jones v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Villanova University), the injured worker (Claimant) allegedly suffered an injury to her knees at work.  The workers’ comp insurance company issued an NTCP on June 6, 2012.  Pursuant to the NTCP, a check for temporary total disability was issued by the carrier and received by Claimant on June 14, 2012.  This check was for the period of May 15, 2012 to June 6, 2012.  The day after the check was received by Claimant, June 15, 2012, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier issued a Notice Stopping Temporary Compensation (NSTC) and a Notice of Compensation Denial (NCD).

A Claim Petition was filed and litigated before a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ).  The Claim Petition was denied.  Claimant filed an appeal of this decision, alleging that the NTCP was not properly revoked, and should have been converted into an NCP (Claimant and her medical evidence were not found credible by the WCJ, but that is not relevant to this discussion).

The argument by Claimant was that the NSTC was sent to Claimant beyond the allotted five days, because the time to consider is the date for which the disability benefits are payable (here, May 15, 2012 to June 6, 2012).  If the NSTC was not timely, then, by law, the NTCP becomes a full NCP.

For reference, the law at issue is Section 406.1(d)(5)(i) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (Act):

If the employer ceases making payments pursuant to a notice of temporary compensation payable, a notice in the form prescribed by the department shall be sent to the claimant and a copy filed with the department, but in no event shall this notice be sent or filed later than five (5) days after the last payment.”

The argument advanced by Claimant was rejected by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB).  Indeed, Claimant was no more successful in her appeal to the Commonwealth Court of PA, which also affirmed the decision of the WCJ.  In reviewing the Act, the Court found that reference is made in other sections about when “compensation shall be paid . . . “  This, said the Court, establishes that “time is calculated from when compensation must be paid, not the last period for which compensation is payable ended.”  As such, the payment received by Claimant on June 14, 2012 made the NSTC issued on June 15, 2012, timely, allowing the revocation of the NTCP.