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SBCR, Inc. v. Doss

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 1, 2019

SBCR, Inc. d/b/a Southern Concrete Repair, BITCO Insurance Companies, Appellants,
v.
Calvin Doss, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          Date of Accident: July 1, 2009.

          On appeal from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims. Ralph J. Humphries, Judge.

          Pamela J. Cox of Cox & Rouse, P.A., Maitland, for Appellants.

          Jonathan B. Israel of Rudolph, Israel and Ellis, P.A. Jacksonville, for Appellee.

          Per Curiam.

         The Employer/Carrier (E/C) in this workers' compensation case appeal the judge of compensation claims' (JCC's) order awarding Claimant supplemental permanent total disability benefits after the date he reached the age of 62. In the order, the JCC found that, in accordance with section 440.15(1)(f), Florida Statutes (2008), Claimant continued to be entitled to supplemental benefits past the age of 62 because the compensable injury prevented him from working sufficient quarters to be eligible for social security disability benefits. The E/C challenge the JCC's interpretation of the statute as well as his factual determination. Because no competent substantial evidence (CSE) supports the JCC's finding concerning Claimant's eligibility for social security disability benefits, we reverse on that basis and find it unnecessary to address the statutory interpretation issue.

         Background

         The E/C accepted Claimant as permanently totally disabled as a result of his 2009 workplace injury and subsequently paid both permanent total disability (PTD) and supplemental PTD disability benefits under section 440.15(1), Florida Statutes (2009). When Claimant reached the age of 62, the E/C stopped paying supplemental benefits as provided in section 440.15(1)(f). This statutory provision states:

[S]upplemental payments shall not be paid or payable after the employee attains age 62, regardless of whether the employee has applied for or is eligible to apply for social security benefits under 42 U.S.C. s. 402 or s. 423, unless the employee is not eligible for social security benefits under 42 U.S.C. s. 402 or s. 423 because the employee's compensable injury has prevented the employee from working sufficient quarters to be eligible for such benefits.

(Emphasis added). The italicized portion of the statute creates an exception to the general rule that supplemental PTD benefits cease at age 62 without regard to eligibility for either social security retirement benefits (42 U.S.C. § 402) or social security disability benefits (42 U.S.C. § 423). The narrow question for review here is whether Claimant proved the exception to the general rule.

         Claimant conceded that he is eligible for social security retirement benefits, but testified that his post-accident application for social security disability benefits was denied because he had not worked enough quarters. He also contended that he would have continued working for this employer but for the injury. The E/C argued below that the exception does not apply because Claimant did not satisfy his burden under the statute.

         Discussion

         We review the JCC's findings of fact for CSE. See Swanigan v. Dobbs House, 442 So.2d 1026, 1027 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983). Here, the JCC found that Claimant is not eligible for social security disability benefits because the compensable injury prevented him from working sufficient quarters. Under the federal statute, insured status for social security disability requires, among other things, that an individual have at least forty quarters of coverage by age 62, and that not less than 20 quarters of this coverage fall within the ten-year (40-quarter) period immediately before the date in which the other requirements are satisfied. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 414, 423(b) & (c)(1)(B)(i). Claimant appears to have credit for the minimum forty quarters as he has conceded that he worked enough quarters to qualify for social security retirement benefits. See 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 414(a) and ...


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