What Happens If You Don't Attend Workers Comp Medical Examination Because You Moved Abroad ?
In Blong v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Fluid Containment), 890 A.2d 1150 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006) Blong received compensation benefits as a result of a work-related bilateral carpal tunnel injury.
When his employer, Fluid Containment, notified Blong to schedule an Independent Medical Examination, Blong's counsel informed Fluid Containment that Blong was unable to attend because he had moved to New Zealand.
Fluid Containment petitioned to terminate or suspend benefits because Blong voluntarily removed himself from the workforce when he moved to New Zealand.
The Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) granted the suspension petition on the basis that Blong voluntarily removed himself from the workforce and denied the termination petition.
The Board affirmed. Blong, 890 A.2d at 1151-1152.
Blong petitioned for review with this Court and contended that Fluid Containment was required to establish job availability in the Mt. Union area where Blong had resided. Blong, 890 A.2d at 1152.
This Court affirmed based on Smith v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Dunhill Temporary Systems), 725 A.2d 1285 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999).
In Smith, this Court held that a claimant who had joined the Peace Corps and moved to Africa voluntarily removed himself from the workforce. It was not necessary for an employer to show the Kachinski requirements of change of condition and job availability.
In Blong, this Court reasoned:
The critical fact is removal. As in Smith, it would be a futile undertaking for Employer Fluid Containment to find jobs suitable for Claimant Blong in the Mt. Union area. Claimant Blong has removed himself from that workplace and offered no indication that he intends to move back to the United States should he learn of suitable employment in Mt. Union. In sum, Claimant Blong has removed himself from the workplace with as much certainty as one who becomes incarcerated or one who decides to retire. Blong, 890 A.2d at 1154.