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Commutation of Benefits

What is a “commutation”? Simply stated, a ‘commutation’ is the legal term for a petitioner asking the Court to accelerate the payment of an award to answer some pressing need of the claimant.

Commutation reduces exposure in two ways:

  1. Any commuted payment made is discounted 5%. Therefore, payments of compensation which are made under Order For Commutation saved the insured money.
  2. The payment of commutation is deemed to shorten the period of overall benefits. A claimant, under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, has two years to re-open a claim from the time last payment was paid. By commuting payments, the period for re-opener is shortened.

Generally speaking, a respondent does not usually object to paying a commuted award.

A recent case, Piskorz v. Beno Stucco Systems Corp., discussed the availability of commutation in a specific case. The Petitioner filed a motion for commutation of his workers’ compensation award, stating he wanted to leave America and open a business in Poland. According to the petitioner, he needed his money NOW because he had obtained the promise of a financial subsidy from the European Regional Development Fund for $60,000.00 to open the business, however, as a condition of the approval, he had to provide his own matching personal funds of $60,000, otherwise he will not receive the subsidy.

The Judge of Compensation inquired as to whether the petitioner (1) had the matching funds, or (2) had any experience running a business. The petitioner could not verify that even with the grant of a commutation e would have the funds necessary to get a matching grant and had no experience running a business.

The Judge of Compensation denied the motion because the petitioner failed to prove: (1) he planned to actually remove from the U.S., and (2) his particular circumstances warranted a departure from the usual method paying a workers’ compensation award.

Case: Piskorz v. Beno Stucco Systems Corp., 06-6559 decided August 15, 2008 by the Honorable Philip A. Tornetta, J.W.C. (Note: this blog entry discusses an agency decision which is not binding law).

Statute discussed: N.J.S.A. 34:15-25

Contributed By: Greg Lois

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