Unemployment Compensation • Alternate Base Year

Brown v. Unemployment Comp. Bd., PICS Case No. 14-0454 (Pa. Commw. March 19, 2014) Covey, J. (7 pages).

The UCBR did not err when it disregarded two pay statements claimant received during his base year and in concluding that claimant was not entitled to use wages from an alternate base year immediately prior to his work related injury in order to qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. Affirmed.

Claimant was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare from September 2008 through Jan. 20, 2010, at which time he sustained a work-related injury while restraining a resident at the facility where he worked. His injury was deemed compensable effective Jan. 21, 2010. Claimant filed an application for UC benefits with an effective date of Oct. 7, 2012, thereby establishing a base year of July 30, 2011 through June 30, 2012. He had insufficient wages during that base year to qualify for benefits and requested an alternate base year of the four quarters immediately prior to his work related injury. The service center determined that because a WC judge ordered his WC benefits be suspended/terminated effective July 19, 2010, his financial ineligibility due to a lack of sufficient wages during the base year beginning July 30, 2011 was not due to a compensable injury and thus, claimant could not elect an alternate base year. Claimant appealed and at the hearing introduced employer pay statements for July 22, 2011 and Aug. 5, 2011 which identified compensation paid to claimant as “Act 534/632 Dis Sal Comp.” The referee affirmed the service center’s decision. Claimant appealed to the UCBR and then to the court.

Although it was clear to the court that claimant’s injury was deemed compensable under the WCA in January 2010, there was no record evidence that it continued to be compensable during his base year. Contrary to claimant’s contention, his pay stubs did not show that his compensable injury continued into his base year. Payments made under Act 534 are not determinative of whether his injury was compensable under the WCA. The provisions of Act 534 exist independently from the WCA and receipt of Act 534 benefits was not proof that claimant’s inability to meet the monetary and credit week requirements was due to a work related injury compensable under the WCA.

Because claimant failed to meet his burden of demonstrating financial eligibility, the UCBR did not err when it affirmed the referee’s decision denying UC benefits.