There are over 80 workers’ compensation judges working in 22 Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication offices in Pennsylvania. These judges render decisions about a number of workers’ compensation issues as well as assessing the merits of proposed workers’ compensation settlement agreements. Many workers’ compensation claims are settled before a judge is called upon to decide matters, but the amount of these settlements must be deemed adequate by a workers’ compensation judge.
Perhaps the most fundamental decision made by these judges determines whether a worker is entitled to benefits after being injured on the job. A judge may also terminate a claim when a worker has recovered from the injury and is able to return to work. A claim may also be modified or suspended when a worker has recovered sufficiently to begin working again. A judge will also be called upon to render a decision when an injured worker challenges a suspension or modification. Workers’ compensation judges also review the documents submitted by the employer and injured worker and determine whether or not the health care measures proposed are work-related, necessary and reasonable.
Decisions made by workers’ compensation judges may be appealed by either the employer or injured worker, but there are time limits imposed. The cover letter sent to the parties involved detailing the judge’s decision includes information about the deadline for filing an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board.
The workers’ compensation program is designed to operate in a fair and impartial manner, but the claims process and its strict time limits may be confusing for injured workers. An attorney who has experience with these types of matters can explain to clients the steps involved in pursuing a claim while helping them to apply for all of the benefits available to them.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, “Office of Adjudication”, November 14, 2014