Court Rejects Reduction of Florida First Responder’s Wage Loss Benefits By Receipt of Pension
If a first responder has a permanent impairment rating of at least 20% after having reached maximum medical improvement, the first responder might be entitled to Florida workers compensation supplemental wage loss benefits.
These are very valuable money benefits and, depending on your average weekly wage and compensation rate, could be in excess of $100,000. The City of Miami Beach attempted to reduce those benefits by the receipt of a pension in the case of Wilder v. City of Miami Beach, 33 FLW D2436 (October 24, 2008) The First District Court of Appeal said “No!”
F.S. 440.15(3)(b)1 says that a Florida first responder will get supplemental wage loss benefits, if the claimant “has not returned to work, or has returned to work earning less than 80% of the employee’s average weekly wage,” and if the claimant “has in good faith attempt to obtain employment commensurate with the claimants ability to work.”
The court found that the phrase “has returned to work” implied that earning does not include money collected while not working, such as a pension or, for that matter, investment earnings. The court held “that a post injury pension did not meet the common understanding of wages or earnings.”
The court reversed the Judge of compensation claims ruling that denied supplemental benefits based upon the receipt of a pension after the injury. Firefighter Wilder will now be entitled to supplement loss benefits without any reduction for receipt of a pension.
I am finding that a lot of municipalities are not determining whether a Florida first responder has a permanent impairment rating. As a result, we are referred our first responder clients to independent cardiologist for an evaluation of the extent of the permanent impairment rating and have filed claims for the payment of impairment benefits and or supplemental wage loss benefits. Most, if not all, of the covered physical conditions that first responders may suffer from as result of their employment half permanent impairment ratings and benefit should be paid. If you have not been given a permanent impairment rating for question the amount of your Florida workers’ compensation impairment benefits and or supplemental wage loss benefits, please contact The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey, your Tampa Bay-based first responder workers’ compensation claims law firm.