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ACT 534/632: Frequently Asked Questions

by | Aug 6, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

What is Act 534 & 632, and Who is Covered?

The proper reference is to 61 P.S. § 951. The Act numbers are the title of the Bill passed by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania to make the statute law, but are the more common way the laws are referenced.

The statute provides benefits to employees of State Penal or Correctional Institutions, Mental Hospital, Youth Development Center and employees of any County Board of Assistance, certain Public Welfare workers and certain firefighters. These Acts apply specifically to injuries caused by an act of an inmate, patient, resident or other person committed to or confined with such institution, or by an applicant or recipient of public assistance benefits.

What are the benefits provided?

Eligible employees are entitled to payment of their full salary (not overtime or shift differentials) during the period of time they are disabled from returning to work at their department at the same or greater salary than at the time of injury. They are also entitled to retain all vested benefits such as an accrued Leave time or pension benefits. They are also entitled to payment of all medical bills for treatment of the work-related injury or condition, until such time as they can return to work in their department at the same or greater salary.

What Other benefits might also apply?

Some injuries may also entitle the claimant to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, Heart and Lung Act (formally called the Enforcement Officer’s Disability Act), Short or Long Term disability benefits and/or Social Security Disability benefits.

However, each type of benefit has terms and conditions, as well as being subject to certain laws, which limit or prohibit receipt of multiple benefits for the same injury.

What is the difference between each type of benefit?

In general, benefits paid pursuant to the Heart and Lung Act and Short Term disability plans apply only to injuries that are ‘temporary’. Workers’ Compensation and Act 534/632 benefits (in theory) can exist for as long as the injury/disability continues. The rate of benefits paid for lost wages also varies. Workers’ Compensation is based on mathematical formulas calculating the “average” pre-injury earnings over the full year before the injury.  Heart & Lung Act benefits are based on 100% of the pre-injury earnings. Act 534 and 632 benefits are based on the pre-injury “salary – excluding overtime and shift differentials. Each different set of laws also impact whether and how any other benefits are treated (Leave time, pension, health insurance etc.

What are the ‘risks” involved?

Any entity paying benefits to an injured worker under any type of Act, statute or insurance policy has the right to challenge whether the disability continues. The forum and rules vary by the type of benefit being paid.

The Relevant parts of the statute state:

61 P.S. § 951. Penal and Correctional Institutions.

Salary; medical expenses; workmen’s compensation; widow’s and minors’ benefits

Any employe of a State penal or correctional institution under the Bureau of Correction of the Department of Justice and any employe of a State mental hospital or Youth Development Center under the Department of Public Welfare, who is injured during the course of his employment by an act of any inmate or any person confined in such institution or by any person who has been committed to such institution by any court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or by any provision of the “Mental Health Act” and any employe of County Boards of Assistance injured by act of an applicant for or recipient of public assistance and any employe of the Department of Public Welfare who has been assigned to or who has volunteered to join the fire fighting force of any institution of the Department of Public Welfare injured while carrying out fire fighting duties, shall be paid, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, his full salary, until the disability arising therefrom no longer prevents his return as an employe of such department, board or institution at a salary equal to that earned by him at the time of his injury.

All medical and hospital expenses incurred in connection with any such injury shall be paid by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until the disability arising from such injury no longer prevents his return as an employe of such department, board or institution at a salary equal to that earned by him at the time of his injury.

During the time salary for such disability shall be paid by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania any workmen’s compensation received or collected for such period shall be turned over to the Commonwealth and paid into the General Fund, and if such payment shall not be so made, the amount so due the Commonwealth shall be deducted from any salary then or thereafter becoming due and owing.

See also Cell v. Dept. of Public Welfare, 869 A.2d 1045 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004)