Is An Employer Entitled to An Offset If He Is Directly Liable for Payment of Workers' Compensation Benefits ?

In Kramer v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Rite Aid Corp.), 794 A.2d 953 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), petition for allowance of appeal granted, 573 Pa. 32, 820 A.2d 700 (2003), this Court determined that an employer is only entitled to an offset under Section 204(a) of the Act if the employer is directly liable for payment of workers' compensation benefits. In Kramer, Denise Kramer (Kramer) received workers' compensation benefits for approximately four months before she returned to work with restrictions. Less than a year later, Rite Aid Corporation (Rite Aid) closed the plant where Kramer worked. Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, Kramer received a severance check in the amount of $ 3,355.02. Rite Aid sent Kramer a notice of compensation benefits offset and informed her that it intended to use the severance as credit against her workers' compensation benefits. Kramer filed an offset review petition which the WCJ denied. the Board affirmed. Kramer, 794 A.2d at 954-955. This Court reversed because Rite Aid was not the party "directly liable for the payment" of Kramer's workers' compensation benefits. Rather, Rite Aid's insurer, Traveler's Casualty Company, contracted with Rite Aid to assume direct liability of Rite Aid's workers' compensation insurance payments. Therefore, Rite Aid was not directly liable and was not entitled to the offset under Section 204(a). Kramer, 794 A.2d at 958-959.