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Posted On: March 22, 2012

MA Supreme Court makes Positive Decision for Workers' Comp Disability Benefits

In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that workers’ compensation disability benefits could, in some cases, be calculated based on the worker’s current weekly earnings at his most recent job—even if that job is not in Massachusetts.

The controlling precedent for the lower court’s decision in this case was Letteney’s Case, where the court held that wages earned outside of Massachusetts could NOT be used to determine current workers’ compensation benefits. In the case at bar, the court reined in that holding—limiting it to cases involving “out-of-State wages earned after suffering latent injuries (such as from exposure to asbestos) that do not result in eligibility for incapacity benefits for at least 5 years.”

Scott Wadsworth, the plaintiff in the case, was certainly pleased. Wadsworth was injured in a metal rolling machine accident (his right hand was crushed) in 1980 while on the job at a Massachusetts corporation. He received benefits for incapacity from 1980-1988. He then started a job in Connecticut. He underwent a procedure to help the pain in his previously injured hand, which only caused further pain, then applied for permanent disability in 2003, arguing that his benefits should be calculated based on his wage rate in 2003 at his Connecticut job. Wadsworth’s rationale was that “he was permanently disabled from a subsequent injury that was a recurrence of his 1980 injury after having returned to work for a period of at least two months.”

Marking a success for disabled Massachusetts employees, the Supreme Court essentially agreed.

For full text of the opinion, see Justia.

If you have any questions about your own workers’ compensation claim, seek the aid of a skilled MA workers’ compensation attorney.

Mass. disability benefits based on current rate of pay regardless of location: Court, Business Insurance, March 20, 2012