Notice of Modification or Suspension
Notice of Modification or Suspension can be set aside even more than three years after the Employer filed under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law
In a significant ruling, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has held that a Notice of Suspension or Notice of Modification can be set aside. Generally, an Employee receiving Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits can have their benefits unilaterally modified or suspended by an Employer by the filing of a notice of modification or notice of suspension. The injured worker is provided 20 days to challenge this filing. If a challenge is filed, a special supersedeas hearing is scheduled. If a challenge is not filed, the Notice of Modification or Notice of Suspension is the equivalent of a supplemental agreement.
The Commonwealth Court held in Kraeuter v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd., 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 535, 2013 WL 6685013, that while Section 413(c) of the Act is intended to streamline the suspension procedure by permitting an employer to unilaterally suspend benefits, Section 413 of the Act authorizes a Judge to set aside an original or supplemental agreement “if it be proved that such … agreement was in any material respect incorrect.” The Court went on to state: “The WCJ may set aside a supplemental agreement for relevant and significant inaccuracy . . . even absent a finding of mistake of law or fact, fraud, or overreaching.” Furmanek v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeal Bd., 64 Pa. Commw. 367, 439 A.2d 1359, 1361 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1982). In this case, the evidence established that though the adjuster filed a notice of suspension indicating the injured worker returned to work, the injured worker never did return to work. As a result, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the Judge’s decision setting aside the notice of suspension based on the notice being improperly being filed.
Of further note, the petition to set aside was filed more than three years after the notice of suspension was filed. The Employer argued that the Claimant should be barred from filing outside the three year statute of limitation. The Court rejected this argument finding that the Employer’s actions in filing documents with with the Bureau of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation without any information regarding Claimant’s full recovery from the work injury as of May 2006 constituted fraud. Under this circumstance, the Court allowed the Notice of Suspension to be set aside.
If you have any questions regarding your workers’ compensation claim, feel free to call a Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation Attorney at our office for a free evaluation.