Claimant is not entitled to a resumption of temporary total disability benefits after the expiration of the 500-week period of partial disability, even when employer reinstated benefits after the 500-week period ended.
The claimant suffered an injury on January 24, 1989. When he returned to work on September 20, 1989, his benefits were suspended. Beginning in May of 2003, a series of Supplemental Agreements were signed, reinstating the claimant's benefits at various periods of time. In late 2008, the claimant filed a reinstatement petition, requesting an adjustment from partial disability to total disability. The claimant also filed a penalty petition, alleging the employer violated the Act by unilaterally ceasing payment of partial disability benefits.
The Commonwealth Court affirmed the Appeal Board's reversal of the Workers' Compensation Judge's decision granting the reinstatement petition. The court pointed out that under §413 (a) of the Act, the claimant had until approximately April 1999 to file a reinstatement petition, but had failed to file it until 2008, over nine years after the 500-week period had expired. The court also did not buy the claimant's contention that he was lulled into a false sense of security by the series of Supplemental Agreements executed in 2003.
According to the court, an employer has no legal duty to notify claimants of the existence of the 500-week statute. The court further rejected the claimant's argument that the reinstatement petition was timely filed since it was done within three years from the last date a compensation payment was made. The court held that §413's three-year limitation is not applicable where there has been a suspension and is only applicable to reinstatements following a termination of benefits.
Case Law Alert - 2nd Qtr 2012