The basic idea of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide an injured worker with wage loss replacement benefits (2/3 of average weekly wage) and medical coverage resulting from the work injury.
The basic idea of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law is to give wage loss replacement benefits to the employee who is capable of working, but who has incurred wage loss as a consequence of an involuntary termination of employment, but not as a result of willful misconduct.
An injured worker is able to receive disability benefits under the PA Work Comp Act and wage loss benefits under the Unemployment Comp Law if the work injury prevents the injured worker from performing her pre-injury job, but does not prevent her from performing other types of modified work in the labor market.
Note, however, that per Act 57 of 1996, “if the employee receives Unemployment Compensation benefits, such amount or amounts so received shall be credited as against the amount of the award made under the provisions of Sections 108 and 306, except for benefits payable under Section 306(c) or 307.” (i.e., the credit doesn’t apply to specific loss or death cases)
This means that the workers’ comp benefits shall be off-set by the net amount an employee receives in unemployment benefits after the work injury.
If an injured worker is applying for or receiving unemployment compensation, then she is stating that she is able to work in some capacity- because to get unemployment benefits, one must be able and available to work. This is not inconsistent with being disabled from the pre-injury job. An employer may not be able to offer a job within the injured worker’s restrictions which would open up a work comp claim for indemnity benefits (wage loss) but also qualify her for unemployment- so long as the separation from employment wasn’t due to willful misconduct or a voluntary quit. But again, remember, the work comp insurer/employer is entitled to a credit for any unemployment received after the work injury. The idea here is to make sure that an injured worker isn’t making more money while out of work than she would make while working.
For more information about the interplay between Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law and Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, call or email PA Work Comp Lawyer Michael Cardamone at 215-206-9068 or Michael@cardamonelaw.com
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