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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 Skype for the upcoming Philadelphia hearings on October 6, 7, and 8. 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 Skype Invitation is notification of your scheduled on-line 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 hearing for appeal A__-____ in Philadelphia on October 6 [or 7 or 8], 2020 at __:__ _.m. will be held by telephone, using Skype. The Board asks that you call into your Skype hearing by computer or telephone a minute or two before your scheduled time by following the instructions below. Please then wait on the phone line and you will be connected to the Skype 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 public hearing by telephone, please contact the WCAB Resource Account at RA-LI_WCAB@pa.gov.

Commissioners of the Board

The Workers' Compensation Appeal Board decides appeals from the 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. The Board hears argument in numerous locations including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Erie. The Board’s scope of review is limited to determining whether an error of law was committed or whether the decision of the WCJ is supported by substantial and competent evidence.

In addition to its appellate work, the Board receives and determines petitions for counsel fees, petitions for rehearing's, miscellaneous requests, commutations, guardianships involving workers’ compensation benefits, and petitions for supersedes (both before the Board and Commonwealth Court). Most of these latter petitions can be decided on the 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 given year the Board will decide 600 to 700 petitions for supersedes which are requests for a stay of the WCJ’s decision pending appeal, approximately100 counsel fee petitions, and issue more than 1,000 appellate opinions. The opinions of the Board are published commercially and compiled in the Workers’ Compensation Law Reporter.

Appeals filed with the Board are listed for argument in accordance with an annual schedule.

The Central Office of the Board in Harrisburg acts as a prothonotary. This office receives and dockets all appeals and petitions and prepares hearing lists, notices, calendars, and records. Appeals are assigned to individual Commissioners of the Board for review and preparation of an opinion and order.

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