Question: If a person injured on the job in Pennsylvania is an undocumented (“illegal”) alien, is that person (the “claimant”) entitled to workers compensation benefits?
Answer: An injured worker’s status as an undocumented alien worker does not preclude him from receiving total disability benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act for periods when that claimant is not capable of performing any type of physical work activity. However, once that injured claimant regains the capability of performing work at any physical level, the claimant’s entitlment to wage loss benefits will be subject to suspension. Typically in a suspension proceeding before a workers compensation judge, the employer bears the burden to establish: (1) evidence of a change in medical condition and (2) evidence that there is an available job the claimant is capable of performing that would pay wages equal to or greater than his pre-injury wage. However, Pennysylvania courts have determined that an employer seeking to suspend the disability benefits of a claimant who is an unauthorized alien is not required to show job availability. In such situations, the employer must only establish that the claimant is an unauthorized alien and that the claimant is no longer totally disabled.
If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at [email protected]// or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.