Case Update: CSA holds that a Claimant's salary at the time of his retirement shall be used to calculate the LE 9-503(e)(2) offs


In Harford County v. Mitchell, the Claimant developed cardiovascular disease while working as a Deputy Sheriff for Harford County. In 2005, Claimant was awarded workers’ compensation benefits. In 2015, the Claimant retired and began receiving retirement benefits from a government sponsored pension in addition to the workers’ compensation benefits. In 2017, the Commission increased Claimant’s permanent partial disability award as a result of a worsening of his condition. Pursuant to LE §9-503(e)(2), workers’ compensation benefits “shall be adjusted so that the weekly total of those benefits and retirement benefits does not exceed the weekly salary that was paid to” the public safety employee. In determining the offset amount, the Commission utilized the weekly salary paid to the Claimant in the weeks prior to his retirement rather than the weeks prior to his disablement from the occupational disease.

The County sought judicial review in the Circuit Court, arguing that the offset should have been calculated based on the Claimant’s average weekly wage in the weeks prior to his disablement. “Average weekly wage” is defined by LE §9-602 and would be a different period than the weeks utilized by the Commission in determining the offset amount. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Claimant. The County appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which was called on construe the statute to determine the meaning of “weekly salary” in LE §9-503(e)(2).

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, concluding that the legislature intended that “weekly salary” in LE §9-503(e)(2) mean the Claimant’s salary immediately prior to the Claimant’s retirement and not the Claimant’s average weekly wage at the time of disablement. The Court concluded that the legislature’s use of “weekly salary” rather than “average weekly wage” in LE §9-503 was intentional and therefore, “weekly salary” refers to the claimant’s salary at the time of retirement for purposes of calculating the offset. The Court noted its conclusion is consistent with the statute's benevolent purposes for injured workers.

A copy of the Opinion can be found at: