Must Employer Pay for All Wheelchair Accessible Home Modifications ?
In Bomboy v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (South Erie Heating Co.), 132 Pa. Commw. 169, 572 A.2d 248 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990), the employer paid for "the modification of the claimant's basement into a wheelchair-accessible living space, with a bedroom and a bathroom." Bomboy, 572 A.2d at 248.
Approximately six years after the employer made these initial modifications, "the claimant sought additional home modifications, including an attached garage, a wheelchair lift, and utility cost reimbursements." Id.
The employer refused payment for these additional modifications, and the claimant filed a petition to force the employer to pay for them.
The referee in that case and the Board denied the claimant's petition, finding that Rieger did not apply on the grounds that the modifications claimant sought were complex and expensive.
This Court affirmed the Board, explaining that:
The claimant's home in Rieger had not been previously modified to accommodate his wheelchair, as was the claimant's home here. . . .
However, in the present case, the employer, at the claimant's request, had previously modified the claimant's home by installing a wheelchair-accessible bedroom and bathroom in the claimant's basement.
These modifications, costing approximately $ 5,000.00, converted the claimant's basement into living quarters for the claimant.
Although we agree that Rieger requires an employer to provide home modifications at the employer's expense, such modifications are limited to a ". . . one-time expenditure."
In this case, the employer previously modified the home in which the claimant presently lives.
Thus, no additional modifications are warranted under Rieger. Bomboy, 572 A.2d at 250.