Case Law Alerts
Judge of compensation claims should not speculate about claimant’s future employment with regard to Social Security entitlement and supplemental benefits.
The insurance carrier accepted the claimant as permanently and totally disabled and paid supplemental benefits until the claimant turned 62 years of age. At the final hearing, the judge of compensation claims found that the claimant was entitled to continued supplemental benefits because the compensable injury prevented him from working sufficient quarters to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The claimant was eligible for retirement benefits, but not disability.
The carrier argued that disability benefits were denied because the claimant did not work at least 20 quarters during the ten-year period as required by 42 U.S.C. § 523(c)(1)(b)(i). The judge’s finding of ineligibility was based solely on the claimant’s testimony that he was told he did not have sufficient quarters to qualify for Social Security disability and that he would have continued to work for his employer if he had not been injured. The claimant provided no documentation and no details to support these assertions.
The carrier appealed. The First DCA held that no competent substantial evidence supported the judge’s findings concerning the claimant’s eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. The court reversed on that basis and found it unnecessary to address the statutory interpretation issue. The First DCA pointed out that the claimant’s work history had been sporadic and the judge of compensation claims should not have speculated about his future employment.
Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2020 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2020 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.