Compensation to Parents That Their Son (Who Provided the Financial Support) Died In a Work Related Accident
In Lineal v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Essel), 542 Pa. 595, 669 A.2d 329 (1995), the claimant filed a fatal claim petition in 1990 with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation seeking benefits based on the death of her son, who died as a result of work-related injuries.
At the hearing on the petition, the claimant stated that her son had provided financial support since 1989 and introduced evidence of her income and expenses, which included monthly mortgage payments ranging from $ 193.79 to $ 387.58 for a vacation home-trailer purchased in 1987 for $ 13,500.
The referee concluded that the claimant's monthly expenses exceeded her average monthly income and that her son contributed approximately $ 583 per month to his mother from January 1990 through September 1990.
Her petition was granted, and the Board affirmed.
The Court reversed the Board on appeal, holding that the cost of the claimant's vacation trailer-home was not an ordinary necessity of life and should have been excluded from the referee's calculation of expenses.
In reversing our decision and reinstating the Board's order, the Supreme Court clarified the meaning of "dependency" in the context of workers' compensation stating:
In order to be eligible for compensation, the father or mother must "to any extent" be dependent upon the financial contributions of the deceased child.
This means, simply, that when normal monthly bills extant at the time of the child's death are set off against normal monthly income of the parent, there is a deficit, absent the child's contribution.
Further, in order to qualify as "dependent," these regular monthly expenditures must be reasonable in light of the life circumstances of the parent at the time of the child's death. 542 Pa. at 602, 669 A.2d at 332.