amount of such benefits is some evidence of earning power.
Another view is that pension benefits are merely a substitute for earning power, or a return for past services. In this sense they may also be a measure of earning power because earning power is a reflection of acquired skill, prior training, experience and job seniority, and retirement pensions and social security benefits are also in some measure dependent upon the achievement of a consistent level of earnings for a sustained period of time in the past.
We think the introduction of pension and social security benefits may serve one party as well as the other in many cases. While it may serve plaintiff as some evidence of earning power where other evidence is lacking, it may also serve a defendant as a limitation on evidence tending to show a higher earning power.
While the Pennsylvania cases dealing with adult persons have required proof of earning power with some degree of certainty, Pilipovich v. Pittsburgh Coal Co., 314 Pa. 585, 172 A. 136 , Johnson v. B. & O.R. Co., 106 F. Supp. 166 [W.D. Pa., 1952], such certainty of proof has never been required in the case of a young child. "A verdict in such cases is always more or less conjectural, but the common experiences of life furnish some basis for a reasonable estimate. All that a trial judge can do is to state clearly the true ground of recovery, limiting it to the probable pecuniary loss, and pointing out the elements to be considered, and to permit no excessive verdict to stand." Campbell v. Philadelphia, 252 Pa. 387, 97 A. 456 , cited in Kowtko v. Delaware & Hudson R.R. Corp., 131 F. Supp. 95 [M.D. Pa. 1955]. If the estate of a young child is not to be denied recovery because of difficulty of proof, the same considerations should apply to the evidence of earning capacity of those in their late years of life.
Similarly, we do not deny Survival Act damages for impairment of earning capacity to the housewife who had a skill to offer in the labor market but who has terminated her outside employment to manage the household and rear children. Spangler v. Helm's New York-Pgh. M. Express, 396 Pa. 482, 153 A. 2d 490 , Fabrizi v. Griffin, 162 F. Supp. 276 [W.D. Pa., 1958].
As a practical matter in most cases we can see neither great advantage nor great prejudice to either party from the introduction of such evidence because the jury must deduct the cost of decedent's maintenance from any determined earning power. Murray v. Phila. T.C., supra. This probable cost of maintenance has likewise never been defined by the Pennsylvania appellate courts, except that it must be "as shown by the evidence", Murray v. Phila. T.C., supra, and it cannot be some abstract minimal figure for bare survival, but rather something based on decedent's own living standards. Curnow v. West View Park, 3 Cir., 337 F.2d 241 . Bearing in mind that fixed retirement and social security benefits generally provide little more than subsistence income, and as commonly claimed in periods of steady inflation not even that amount, we cannot see any prejudice in the jury's consideration of such benefits along with all other evidence having probative value on future earning power.
Therefore, solely for the purpose of providing some measure of earning capacity, and not for the purpose of establishing lost income, we hold that in this case the actual retirement pension and social security income of deceased husband, and the prospective retirement income of deceased wife may be introduced into evidence at the trial of this action.
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