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Wojcik Wins Extreme Hardship Determination Case

Our partner, Melanie Wojcik, successfully defended an extreme hardship determination claim under WCB §35(3), receiving a favorable decision from a Board Panel on in Toys R Us. WCB Case No. 80801667 (4/22/22). In this case, the claimant was previously classified with an 80% loss of wage earning capacity and when he reached the durational limit of his permanent partial disability benefit, he applied for further benefits under the extreme hardship determination provision of WCB 35(3). During litigation, Melanie cross-examined the claimant, and established that the claimant's expenses were typical for someone on a fixed income, that some of the claimant's costs were discretionary and that the claimant made no effort to reduce his expenses. Nonetheless, the Law Judge found that the claimant met the criteria for extreme hardship and awarded ongoing benefits.

Melanie appealed the Law Judge's decision to the Board Panel. In an unanimous decision, the Board Panel overruled the Law Judge, finding that the mere fact that a claimant's expenses exceed his income does not, by itself, entitle that claimant to further benefits under an extreme hardship redetermination.

Our clients should remember to scrutinize claims for ongoing benefits under the extreme hardship determination provision. Please contact our office for advice and recommendations for any assistance.

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