Frank Gillen v. WCAB (Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission); No. 1681 C.D. 2019; filed May 12, 2021; Judge Leavitt

Under § 204(a) of the Act, a state employer is entitled to take a credit for contributions to the State Employees’ Retirement Systems made by another state employer.

In this case, the claimant began working for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 2008. Prior to that, he worked for the Port Authority for 18 years. In September of 2013, the claimant sustained a work injury and was paid workers’ compensation benefits. Later, in October of 2016, State Employees’ Retirement Systems (SERS) granted the claimant a disability pension. Subsequently, the Turnpike Commission issued a Notice of Workers’ Compensation Benefit Offset, stating it would take a pension credit against the claimant’s weekly disability compensation payment and deduct an additional $50.00 from the claimant’s weekly benefit rate to recover an overpayment of over $30,000.00. The claimant filed a review petition and a penalty petition, taking the position that the Turnpike Commission was not entitled to an offset of the SERS’ pension to the extent his pension was funded by the Port Authority.

The Workers’ Compensation Judge denied the claimant’s petitions, holding that the Turnpike Commission was entitled to an offset credit and recoupment of its overpayment. The judge found that the claimant’s 18-year employment with the Port Authority was irrelevant to the actuarial analysis performed by the Turnpike Commission. The claimant appealed to the Appeal Board, which affirmed.

On appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the claimant argued that § 204(a) of the Act does not entitle a state employer to take a credit for the contributions to SERS made by another state employer. The claimant further argued that the the Turnpike Commission violated the Act by taking a credit for a pension benefit funded in large part by the Port Authority.

The court rejected the claimant’s arguments and dismissed his appeal. In doing so, the court held that, although the claimant worked for two separate state agencies during his career, the Commonwealth was the claimant’s “employer” and is entitled to an offset against its payment of workers’ compensation disability benefits to the claimant under § 204 (a) of the Act. The court additionally found that the Turnpike Commission did not violate the Act for taking an offset for the claimant’s disability pension benefits. The Board’s denial of the claimant’s penalty petition was also affirmed.


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