Robin Hamilton v. Maine Dept. of Health & Human Services
Maine Workers' Compensation Division
January 25, 2022
CategoriesPost-Injury Earnings Partial Incapacity Partial Incapacity Post-Injury Earnings
post injury earnings
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Robin Hamilton v Maine DHHS (attached) - Hamilton sustained a mental injury at work and was awarded partial incapacity benefits based on an imputed weekly earning capacity of $150. She then worked as a respite caregiver in her home at $90 per day, from which she paid her clients' food and beverages. Later she contracted with a service agency to care for her disabled sister at her home for a stipend $37,000 per year, including food, beverages and travel to appointments, plus an additional $697 per month for room and board.
DHHS filed a Petition for Review claiming a change in her economic circumstances and requesting reduction in her benefits. Judge Hirtle granted the petition and reduced her benefits in accordance with her current stipend but not her additional room and board payment. Both parties appealed, and the Appellate Division vacated the decision in part.
The panel noted that, while current earnings are prima facie proof of earning capacity, they are not dispositive of the issue. Hamilton was assisted by her family in caring for sister, and she could let likely not have done the same job elsewhere. The panel members upheld Judge Hirtle's exclusion of the room and board payment from "income," but they remanded the case for further findings on her earning capacity.