eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – September 2022 – Maryland
September 27, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
MD CASE SUMMARY
Patrick Spevak v. Montgomery County, Maryland
No., 44, September Term 2021,
In the Court of Appeals
Filed: August 15, 2022
The Court of Appeals held that permanent partial disability benefits and government service-connected total disability retirement benefits are “similar benefits” under Md. Code (1991, 2016 Repl. Vol., 2021 Supp.), Labor and Employment Article § 9-610, that are subject to the offset provision.
Patrick Spevak was a Montgomery County firefighter from 1979 to 2010. After sustaining a back at work, he retired in 2010 after being granted a service-connected total disability retirement. Since 2010, he has been receiving retirement benefits amounting to approximately 70% of his highest salary. Mr. Spevak’s hearing subsequently deteriorated, and in 2016 he filed a workers’ compensation claim based on occupational hearing loss. In 2017, the Workers’ Compensation Commission found that Mr. Spevak’s hearing loss was causally related to his employment and awarded him permanent partial disability benefits as a result of a 21% hearing loss in his left ear. Also, the Commission determined that Mr. Spevak’s permanent partial benefits were completely offset pursuant to Section 9-610(a) of the Labor and Employment Article because his total disability retirement and his permanent partial workers’ compensation benefits were “similar benefits” under the statute and the retirement benefits were paid at a higher rate than the PPD benefits, and so there was a total offset. The Circuit Court for Montgomery County affirmed the Commission’s decision. Mr. Spevak appealed. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court. Mr. Spevak’s petition for a writ of certiorari was granted by the Court of Appeals.
When an employee receives a service-connected total disability retirement per LE § 9-610(a)(l) from his or her employer, the LE § 9-610 offset applies to any permanent total or permanent partial workers’ compensation benefits the employee is awarded for injuries or diseases related to that same employment. Because Mr. Spevak’s service-connected total disability retirement compensates for any and all work-related injuries he sustained in his employment with Montgomery County, his permanent partial workers’ compensation award that is of lesser value will be completely offset.
A government employee’s service connected total disability retirement benefits compensate for all injures related to his service, and his service connected total disability retirement benefits exceeded his permanent partial disability benefits, and therefore a total offset will apply.
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