Court Restricts Employer’s Right To Offset

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Maxim Crane Work v. WCAB (Solano)

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Analysis

In Maxim Crane Work v. WCAB (Solano), the Commonwealth Court restricted an employer’s right to take an offset against a claimant’s workers’ compensation benefits, based on the claimant’s receipt of social security old age benefits. Under the Act, an employer is entitled to an offset against workers’ compensation benefits it otherwise would owe to a claimant in certain situations, including the claimant’s receipt of social security “old age” (aka retirement) benefits. Furthermore, Act 57 of 1996 provided for the creation of Bureau Verification of Employment forms which a claimant is required to complete. These forms include the Employee Report of Benefits (LIBC-756) and the Notice of Workers’ Compensation Benefit Offset (LIBC-761).

In Maxim Crane, the claimant was provided with LIBC-756 which verified his receipt of social security old age benefits. Upon receipt of the form, the employer immediately issued a Notice of Benefit Offset and attempted to recoup the overpayments to the claimant based on his receipt of social security old age benefits during the previous several months (prior to the employer receiving the LIBC-756). The Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that the employer was only entitled to an offset beginning on the date that the claimant provided the LIBC-756. The Judge specifically held that the employer was not entitled to any offset for benefits received by the claimant during any period prior to receipt of the LIBC-756. The Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court both affirmed.
 

What It Means to You

As a result of Maxim Crane, claimants will argue that employers are not entitled to an offset against the claimant’s benefits based on claimant's receipt of social security old age benefits until the employer notifies the claimant of its right to an offset and provides the LIBC-761 form. The Maxim Crane case impresses upon employers and claims professionals the critical importance of sending the Bureau Verification forms, in particular LIBC-756 on a routine and timely basis to all employees receiving workers’ compensation wage loss benefits. Please contact a C&W Workers’ Compensation attorney to discuss your verification form or social security offset questions.
 

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March 2008
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