What happens to my workers’ compensation benefits if I’m incarcerated?
Section 306 (a)(2) of the Pa WC Act allows an employer to suspend an injured workers’ wage loss benefits if they are incarcerated following a conviction. Medical benefits for the work injury continue but wage loss benefits stop. The incarceration MUST follow a conviction, not merely an arrest. House arrest following a conviction is viewed the same as formal incarceration behind bard and likewise results in the suspension of wage loss benefits. Release to a halfway house and/or a drug or alcohol recovery facility has the same affect and will also result in a suspension of compensation. An employer does not have to file a formal Suspension Petition in order to suspend an injured workers’ wage loss benefits following incarceration after a conviction. This provision of the Act is self-executing meaning the employer can suspend compensation without a Judge’s Order once they learn of the injured workers’ incarceration and, the injured worker has the same right once the period of incarcerations ends. In the latter situation, the injured worker is entitled to an automatic reinstatement of their wage loss benefits once released from their incarceration without having to wait for a Judge to order the reinstatement of benefits. The logic behind this provision of the Act is that an injured worker should not be entitled to wage loss benefits if they removed themselves from the possibility of returning to work by committing a crime and, getting convicted for it. This seems fair but this issue creates a lot of litigation because employers and insurance carriers are reluctant to reinstate compensation for a convicted felon. If this unfortunate circumstance happens to you, we strongly recommend that you get advice from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer so that your right to compensation is protected.