Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Louis H. Zarkovich, deceased; Clara Zarkovich, mother v. Borough of Aliquippa, No. A-79559.
John J. Petrush, Petrush & Miller, Ltd., for petitioner.
Richard Urick, Duplaga, Tocci, Palmiere & McMillen, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge Palladino.
This case involves a claim for benefits under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 561. The Claimant is the mother of a worker who was killed in the course of his employment and seeks compensation on the basis of dependency under Section 307(5) of the Act. The Claimant filed a Fatal Claim Petition and on June 26, 1980, the referee rendered a decision awarding compensation as claimed. The Respondents, the Borough of Aliquippa (Employer) and its insurance carrier, Rockwood Insurance Company, appealed this decision to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board). On December 24, 1980, the Board issued its decision reversing the referee and denying compensation. On January 2, 1981, by way of petition for review, the Claimant appealed her case to this Court.
The decedent, Louis H. Zarkovich, sustained a basilar skull fracture when he fell off the back of a Borough truck striking his head on the pavement. There is no dispute that this accident occurred while in the course of his employment. Three days later, on October 7, 1979, the decedent died as a result of the injuries he sustained in that accident.
At the time of his death, the decedent maintained an apartment of his own and lived by himself. He had been divorced since 1972. During his employment with the Borough, the decedent's average weekly earnings were $285.41. The decedent was survived by his mother, Clara Zarkovich (Claimant), and his brother who was serving in the United Armed Forces in Germany.
At the time of her son's death, the Claimant was 63 years old. She had been a widow since 1959. Her only source of income was a $242.00 Social Security payment and an $18.20 Supplemental Social Security payment. Her living expenses averaged $316.98 per month.*fn1 Thus, her living expenses exceeded her income level by $56.78. To defray this deficit the Claimant
testified that her son, the decedent, gave her on an average of $15 to $20 in cash each month.*fn2 The Claimant further testified if she needed money for a doctor's appointment, or extra money for groceries, or the holidays, the decedent would provide her with it. Although there was no set time of the month when decedent gave Claimant money, nor any specific amount, the Claimant testified that she had been relying on that additional support to meet her necessary living expenses since 1972.
Despite the $15 to $20 a month the decedent gave Claimant, there still existed a $36.78 to $41.78 deficit in her monthly budget. To make up the difference, the Claimant testified she would cut down on some of the expenses in her budget and put the money she saved there toward one of her other expenses. Based on the above facts, Claimant contended she was ...