PA Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier Can Suspend Benefits to Injured Worker Who Moves Out of the Country

Ordinarily, to suspend (or even modify) workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker in PA, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier must show a change of medical condition and prove work is available within the injured worker’s physical capabilities [Benefits can be suspended for other reasons, but this is the most common].

There are exceptions to this rule, and one of those exceptions was the issue involved in Braz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB), decided recently by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Claimant decided to move to Portugal after his injury. Upon learning of this fact, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier filed a Petition to Suspend Compensation Benefits, since Claimant had “voluntarily removed himself from the labor market.” Because the workers’ comp insurance company presented no medical evidence, showing a change in medical condition, the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) denied the Petition. On appeal, the WCAB reversed the WCJ, and granted the Petition.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the WCAB, finding that by permanently relocating out of the Country, Claimant elected to remove himself from the workforce. As such, the Court determined that Claimant was no longer entitled to workers’ comp benefits.