Responding To A Modification Petition
In our last two posts, we discussed termination and suspension petitions and how they are used to terminate the workers’ compensation benefits of injured employees. In this post, we will discuss the third and final type of petition filed by employers who are attempting to reduce or terminate employee benefits. This document is known as a Modification Petition and usually follows an employee’s return to work (in some capacity) or a vocational interview conducted by the employer.
Fortunately, just because an employer files a modification petition does not mean that an employee’s benefits will automatically be reduced, so if you recently learned that your employer is trying to reduce, suspend, or terminate your benefits, you should speak with a Wilkes Barre suspension/termination petitions lawyer who can help support your claim.
What is a Modification Petition?
Modification petitions are the third type of petition that employers use when trying to reduce or suspend an injured employee’s benefits. These petitions are filed most often when:
- An injured employee has allegedly returned to work in some capacity, but is earning less than his or her pre-injury wage; or
- An employer requires an employee to undergo a vocational interview and based on the results of that interview and a labor market survey, alleges that other work is available in the employee’s area.
If approved, a modification petition could result in a reduction in wage loss benefits that reflects the difference between an employee’s current and previous wages. It is also possible, however, for benefits to be terminated completely.
In its modification petition, an employer will need to allege that:
- An employee’s condition or disability has changed;
- Work is available to the employee; and
- The employee is capable of doing that other work.
Upon filing, a modification petition will be assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ), where the parties will be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of their positions. In the event that a judge is convinced that an employee can earn a wage that is equal to or greater than a wage, he or she will automatically suspend those wage benefits. If, on the other hand, the judge is convinced that the employee can earn a wage, albeit a lower wage than he or she used to make, then the employee can expect his or her wage benefits to be reduced to an amount that is equal to two-thirds of the difference between the two amounts. It’s important to note, however, that employers are prohibited from stopping or reducing an injured employee’s wage benefit checks until the WCJ has issued a ruling on the petition. These decisions in turn, cannot be issued until after at least one hearing has been held. Both parties have the right to appeal if they disagree with the judge’s determination.
Legal Representation When in Need
To speak with an experienced Wilkes Barre suspension/termination petitions lawyer about how to stop your own employer from terminating, suspending, or modifying your workers’ compensation wage benefits, please call the Figured Law Firm at 570-954-9299 today.