Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Crime Victim's Compensation Board in case of In Re: Claim of Gretchen J. Peterson, File No. 77-0088-D, dated August 2, 1978.
Ronald C. Makoski, for petitioner.
Sally A. Lied, Deputy Attorney General, with her J. Andrew Smyser, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Acting Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.
This case of first impression requires us to review an order and award of the Pennsylvania Crime Victim's Compensation Board (Board).
An amendment to the Administrative Code of 1929 (Act), Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, as amended, added by Section 2 of the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 574, as amended, 71 P.S. § 180-7 et seq., created the Board and empowered it to provide for the financial losses of innocent victims of violent crimes and their dependents by compensating them for out-of-pocket losses and loss of support or earnings. Pursuant to the Act, Gretchen J. Peterson (Petitioner) filed a claim for compensation, following the criminal homicide of her husband.
The first area of compensation, out-of-pocket loss, includes such items as medical care and treatment and funeral expenses. The Board found that Petitioner
incurred an out-of-pocket loss of $35.70 for hospital expenses and $2,919.00 for funeral and burial expense.*fn1 Petitioner does not dispute that part of the order.
In computing the amount of Petitioner's loss of support, the second area of recovery authorized by the Act, the Board multiplied $3,265.08 (80% of her husband's annual net income) by 27.7, the anticipated remaining labor force participation years of her husband, who died at age 35, and found that Petitioner incurred a permanent loss of support of $90,442.71. However, Section 477.9 of the Act, 71 P.S. § 180-7.9, requires awards to be reduced by any payments received by the claimant as a result of the death or injury.*fn2 Petitioner received life insurance proceeds in the amount of $5,016.95. Furthermore, she will receive Social Security payments of $78.10 per month for herself and for each of her five children until each child reaches the age of 18. These amounts total $65,760.20, and deducting all payments either received or due to be received, the Board found that Petitioner incurred an actual loss of support in excess of $19,000.00. Since the Act limits loss of support to $15,000.00, it would appear that Petitioner should receive that amount.
Instead of awarding Petitioner $15,000.00 for loss of support, however, the Board determined that until 1985,*fn3 when Petitioner's two oldest children have reached eighteen years of age, she will be receiving more money annually in Social Security payments ($5,623.00) than she would have received from her husband had he remained alive. Reasoning that the legislature did not intend to create a windfall, but instead intended to reimburse victims only for their actual losses, the Board held that since Petitioner would incur no loss of support until 1985, she should, at ...