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Workers' Compensation Appeal Board

Overview

NOTICE:

The Governor has reinstated previously suspended sections of the Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) and regulations regarding hearings before the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board: Section 424 of the Act (77 P.S. § 855) and 34 Pa. Code § 111.17.

In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order of July 10, 2020, the Board will be conducting hearings by Teams for the upcoming Scranton hearings on April 20, 2021. The following procedures have been provided to the parties:

Parties with an Email Address in WCAIS

 

Parties without an Email Address in WCAIS

The below Microsoft Teams Invitation is notification of your scheduled on-line 15 minute hearing in reference to the above-captioned appeal. Even if you cannot attend this hearing, you must acknowledge receipt by “ACCEPTING” this invitation, and then you may request a CONTINUANCE or request that your argument be submitted ON BRIEF by filing said request in WCAIS, but not by replying to or rejecting this invite. If another lawyer is to attend this hearing on your behalf, please FORWARD this NOTICE by selecting “Response Options” in the dropdown under “Attendees” in the options block. Please log-in timely and await the Commissioner’s attendance. Briefs should be uploaded to WCAIS in accordance with the briefing due-date.

Questions may be submitted to the Secretary of the Board at the WCAB Resource Account at RA-LI-WCAB@pa.gov.

 

Your 15-minute hearing for appeal A__-____ in _______________ 

on _________________ at __:__ _.m. will be held using TEAMS. The Board asks that you call into your TEAMS hearing by computer or telephone a minute or two before your scheduled time by following the instructions below. Please then wait on the line and you will be connected to the TEAMS call when the hearing begins.

Instructions: Dial 1-267-332-8737. You will then be asked to enter an access code. Please enter the code _________#. Be sure to include “#”.

Please note that the briefing schedule issued with the original hearing notice applies and briefs are to be timely filed with the Board on or prior to the brief due date unless an extension is granted.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board before your hearing at 717-783-7838.

Should a non-party wish to attend a hearing conducted using Teams, please contact the WCAB Resource Account at RA-LI_WCAB@pa.gov.

Commissioners of the Board

 

The Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) hears and decides appeals from Decisions and Orders of the approximately 90 workers' compensation judges (WCJs) throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in cases involving injuries, occupational diseases, and fatal claims arising in the course of employment. Any aggrieved party may appeal the decision of a WCJ by filing a Notice of Appeal with the WCAB within 20 days of the issuance of the WCJ's decision and order. According to an annually published schedule, the WCAB hears argument in numerous locations (including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Erie), and electronically during the COVID emergency. The WCAB reviews a WCJ's decision to assure that it is supported by substantial and competent evidence and is legally in accordance with the Workers' Compensation Act (Act), regulations, and case law. Per that Act, WCAB decisions and orders must be concurred in by a majority of all Commissioners.

In addition to its appellate work, the WCAB has original jurisdiction over the appointment of fiduciary guardianships, commutation petitions, trustee payments, attorney fee petitions, total disability conversion determinations per instances of dual specific loss claims, rehearing petitions, and supersedeas petitions (requests for a stay of the WCJ's decision pending appeal) both before the Board and Commonwealth Court. Most of this work can be decided on petition and answer alone, without argument, although some cases do require a hearing before the Board or referral to a WCJ for the purpose of making findings of fact.

In a typical year the WCAB will receive more than 1000 appeals and cross-appeals, issue more than 1,000 appellate opinions, rule on 500 to 700 petitions for supersedes, and decide approximately 100 counsel fee petitions. WCAB opinions are published commercially and compiled in the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Law Reporter.

The WCAB was the first Commonwealth agency to "go-live" with the Workers' Compensation Automation and Integration System (WCAIS) in September 2012. Appeals and petitions can be filed with the WCAB electronically using WCAIS.  Appeals can also be filed on paper using the LICB-2526 form and mailed to the WCAB Central Office Harrisburg. The WCAB continues to make assessments and adjustments to WCAIS in order to improve public service and maintain the integrity of the administrative appellate process.

History

Created in 1915 as a quasi-judicial administrative body, the Workmen's Compensation Board was established to hear appeals from decisions of Workmen's Compensation Referees. At that time, the workmen's compensation referees were under the jurisdiction of the Board and acted as its agents in conducting evidentiary hearings, findings of fact, making legal conclusions, and deciding petitions. On appeal, the Board could substitute its own findings and conclusions for those of the referee and make its own determination from the evidence in the record. Thus, the Workmen's Compensation Board was the final finder of fact in workmen's compensation cases.

In 1972, extensive amendments to the Administrative Code and the Workmen's Compensation Act removed the referees from the jurisdiction of the Board and placed them under the supervision of the Secretary of Labor and Industry. In effect, this change also removed from the Board its original jurisdiction over petitions assigned to Referees, now known as workers’ compensation judges. In addition, the amendments provided that the Board could not change or reverse a finding of a referee if it was based on competent evidence, thereby making the referee the final finder of fact in such cases. In keeping with these revisions, the Board was, in turn, transformed into an appellate body; its name changed to the "Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board." In 1996, with Act 57, the Board's name was again changed, becoming the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

In 2011, the Department of Labor and Industry embarked on a workers’ compensation technology upgrade, which resulted in the Workers’ Compensation Automation and Integration System (WCAIS). Through WCAIS, the Board can receive appeals, petitions, briefs and motions in addition to circulating and voting on opinions. This upgrade has enabled the Board to reduce the time from filing an appeal to final decision. Information on WCAIS can be found here.

The Commissioners of the Board are:

Alfonso Frioni, Jr., Esq., Chairman
Sandra D. Crawford, Esq. Thomas P. Cummings, Esq.
William I. Gabig, Esq. Robert A. Krebs, Esq.
David H. Wilderman, Esq. James A. Zurick, Esq.

The Secretary of the Board is Steven Loux, Esq.

Law

PA Workers’ Compensation Act

Resources

Administrative Code (note Title 34, Chapter 111) http://www.pacode.com
General Services (PA Manual) http://www.dgs.pa.gov
PA Bar Association (for Attorney Referral)  
  Allegheny County http://www.acba.org
  Dauphin County http://www.pabar.org
  Philadelphia County http://www.philabar.org
PA Bulletin http://www.pabulletin.com