Workers’ Comp Benefits Modified in PA With No Job Availability Shown

As discussed in previous blog entries, the case of Diehl v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board is of great importance in determining whether it matters when a workers’ compensation insurance carrier in Pennsylvania requests an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) within 60 days of the expiration of 104 weeks of total disability.

In a decision rendered on April 28, 2008, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that a PA workers’ compensation insurance carrier must show job availability if the IRE request is not made within that 60 day period. This decision was then vacated by the Court, to be addressed again by the entire Court (rather than a panel, as this decision was). Finally, on April 22, 2009, the Court issued a final decision in this matter, achieving a different result.

As feared by attorneys who represent injured workers in PA, the Court held that a workers’ compensation insurance carrier need not prove job availability whether or not the IRE request is made within that 60 day period. Instead, if that time period is missed, the workers’ comp insurance company merely has to prove the Impairment Rating Evaluation resulted in an impairment rating of less than 50%.

Unfortunately for injured workers in Pennsylvania, this means there is very little difference whether the workers’ comp insurance carrier requests the IRE within the 60 day period or not.