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Pennsylvania Man Loses Work Benefits Because of Unemployment

A Pittsburgh man had been working for the city when he suffered a neck injury at work in 1992. Though he went back to work, he couldn't perform the same duties and was given a different job. He continued working until he was laid off several years later.

After leaving his job, he received unemployment benefits from the state while he tried to find another job. Unfortunately after searching for a while he was unable to find a job. Around that time he began getting Social Security, pension, and disability workers' compensation benefits. In response, his employer filed a suit to have his compensation suspended.

The issue is whether the definition of a retired person should be based on the claimant's decision to collect pension. If it is based on that decision, then employers can suspend the claimant's workers' compensation benefits because that person is considered retired.

In this particular situation, the man's employer argued that he was considered retired because he had stopped working and was drawing on his pension plan and getting Social Security and thus his workers' compensation should be suspended. The Commonwealth Court ruled in their favor after concluding that the man had not given enough proof that he was not retired.

But at what point can a person stop looking for work? The article does not mention approximately how long the man was searching for a job, but should that be a deciding factor? An attorney for the city said that it should be a factor because someone not looking for work probably doesn't intend to work.

The man is appealing the decision because his pension and Social Security payments were collected in connection to his disability status and should not be considered a sign that he has retired.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online, "Retirement issues grow in workers' comp cases," Leo Strupczewski, 8 November 2010

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