Section 204(A) Workers Compensation Act Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania State University v. Workers' Compensation (Hensal), 911 A.2d 225, 227 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006), Robert Hensal (Hensal) had sustained a work-related injury on February 21, 2002. Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) issued a notice of compensation payable and Hensal was awarded total disability benefits. In October of 2002, the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) granted Hensal a disability pension. "In January 2004, Employer Penn State filed a petition to modify benefits alleging entitlement to an offset against its workers' compensation obligation due to Claimant's Hensal's receipt of a disability pension." Id. at 226. Penn State then filed a notice of workers' compensation benefit offset pursuant to Section 204(a) of the Act, 77 P.S. 71. Hensal responded with a penalty petition. The WCJ concluded that Penn State failed to establish what contributions that it made to Hensal's pension. Although the WCJ acknowledged that Penn State's evidence may have been valid, the Act required that actual contributions be established before an offset was permissible. The Board affirmed. The Court noted: In 1996, the legislature, attempting to combat the increasing costs of workers' compensation in Pennsylvania, amended Section 204(a) of the Act to allow employers an offset against workers' compensation benefits for social security, severance, and pension benefits simultaneously received by an employee. The amended Section 204(a) now provides in relevant part: The severance benefits paid by the employer directly liable for the payment of compensation and the benefits from a pension plan to the extent funded by the employer directly liable for the payment of compensation which are received by an employee shall also be credited against the amount of the award made under sections 108 occupational disease and 306 total and partial disability, except for benefits payable under section 306(c) specific loss benefits . . . .77 P.S. 71. Id. at 227 In Hensal, this Court further noted: Amended Section 204(a) serves the legislative intent of reducing the cost of workers' compensation by allowing an employer to avoid paying duplicate benefits for the same loss of earnings . . . . Similarly, Section 204(a) implicitly recognizes that public policy bars an employer from utilizing an employee's own retirement funds to satisfy its workers' compensation obligations . . .Id. at 228.