If I am receiving total disability benefits and I am not working, is there any way that my employer or its insurance company can demonstrate that I am only partially disabled?

For injuries occurring after June 24, 1996, if the insurance company receives medical evidence that indicates that you are capable of returning to perform some form of work, you may receive a form entitled “Notice of Ability to Return to Work.” This document states that you have an obligation to look for available employment, that proof of available employment may jeopardize your right to receive ongoing benefits, and that you have the right to consult with an attorney to obtain evidence to challenge the insurer's contentions.

To reduce or eliminate your workers' compensation benefits, the insurance company must establish that you have “earning power.” The Workers’ Compensation Act states that earning power is to be determined by analyzing work that you are capable of performing and will be based upon expert opinion evidence, including job listings with agencies of the Department, private job placements, agencies, and advertisements.

Your disability will be considered “partial” if you are able to perform previous work, or considering your residual “productive skill, education, age, and work experience, can engage in other substantial gainful employment which exist in the usual employment area where you live in Pennsylvania.” The Act also states that if the employer has a job that you are capable of performing, it must be offered to you.