Thursday, February 3, 2011

Injured Worker Entitled to Act 534 Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits at The Same Time.

Act 534 benefits are payable to employees of Pennsylvania penal and correctional institutions and mental hospitals. The injured individual is entitled to receive his or her salary until he or she is able to return to work for his or her employer at a salary equal to the salary earned at the time of the injury. Act 534 benefits are separate from the Workers' Compensation Act in Pennsylvania. There is a specific law which protects the above employees. For instance, an employee who is injured in a mental hospital by a patient of the hospital is entitled to receive "full salary". However, "full salary" as stated in Act 534, as amended, 61 P.S. Section 951, does not include overtime and shift differential for an hourly employee. Salary is a term intentionally used by the Pennsylvania legislature for a limited purpose. Salary does not include overtime and shift differential payments. Salary is defined as "fixed compensation paid regularly (as by the year, quarter, month, or week) for services." Overtime and shift differential are not fixed compensation regularly paid. In the Commonwealth Court case of Celi vs. Department of Public Welfare, the Commonwealth Court stated, "If the legislature had intended for overtime and shift differential to be incorporated into Act 534, it could have changed the term to wage or pay instead of salary."

Nevertheless, Act 534 and its companion Act 632, provide a more complete benefit than the Workers' Compensation Act which only, typically, provides for two-thirds of the injured worker's income.

Act 534 and Act 632 benefits mirror the provisions of the Pennsylvania Heart & Lung Act which provide temporary payment of full salary to specific Pennsylvania employees listed under the Heart & Lung law.

Act 534 benefits are also known as "Act 534/632" benefits. This law applies to an employee of a state penal or correctional institution under the Bureau of Corrections of the Department of Justice and any employee of a state mental hospital or Youth Development Center under the Department of Public Welfare. The Act applies to any employee who is injured by an inmate or an individual who has been committed to the mental institution. The Act also applies to any employee of the Department of Public Welfare who volunteers to be a firefighter and is injured while carrying out firefighting duties.

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