The Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 109 in summer 2006. Effective September 2006, workers’ compensation judges do not have authority to approve a compromise and release agreement until the claimant has proven either (a) that any child support obligation has been appropriately considered or (b) the claimant is not the subject of a child support lien. Act 109 mandated the creation of a state website as a tool for confirming the status of a claimant’s child support lien. A negative search result conducted no more than 20 days before the settlement hearing is sufficient proof to allow a judge to proceed with the settlement approval process if proof of the negative web search (a printout of the web page confirming the absence of any child support liens) is accompanied by a sworn written statement from the claimant essentially confirming that his/her information is identical to that which was used for the lien search.
If a claimant is the subject of a child support lien, an arrangement must be worked out between the claimant and jurisdiction holding the lien. In some cases, this only requires advising the jurisdiction of the proposed workers’ compensation settlement and confirming that the Claimant is not in arrears. More frequently, however, lien holding jurisdictions are requiring advance payments of the claimant’s child support obligation before they will approve the lien. In virtually all cases, a workers’ compensation judge will require written proof of the claimant’s arrangement with the lien holding jurisdiction before approval will be considered.
What It Means to You
Failure to adhere to these procedures will, at the least, delay the settlement approval process. Be sure to contact a member of Cipriani & Werner’s workers’ compensation group if you have any questions regarding the effects of Act 109 on the ability to settle your workers’ compensation case.