Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Robert Walzer, Deceased, Ralph and Katherine Walzer, Parents v. Globe Security, Inc., No. A-80021.
Edward H. Walter, with him Joseph J. Pass, Jr., Jubelirer, Pass & Intrieri, P.C., for petitioners.
Kim Darragh, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for respondents.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 469]
Ralph and Katherine Walzer (claimants) appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's decision that awarded them only a funeral allowance, and not dependency benefits, for the death of their adult son, Robert Walzer.
Robert Walzer (decedent) was employed by Globe Security, Inc. as a security guard, when, in December 1975, he was killed in the course of his employment. He was 22 years old at the time of his death. Following the decedent's death, the claimants filed a Fatal Claim Petition, asserting that they were partially dependent upon their deceased son's income.
At the time of the decedent's death, claimant Ralph Walzer was employed and earning a gross annual salary of $12,584. Claimant Katherine Walzer was an unemployed housewife. The claimants owned their home free of any encumbrances, and were able to accumulate savings in excess of $1,300 during the year 1975. The decedent was single; and he resided and ate at his parents' home. His gross salary at the time of
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 470]
his death was $7,821 a year, or $106 a week: out of which he made payments on the loan for his 1975 car, paid for car insurance, bought clothing, and acquired other items incidental to his life-style. At the time of the decedent's death, the claimants also had another son residing at their home, 19 year-old Raymond Walzer, who was employed.
In the proceedings on their Petition, the claimants sought to establish that, in the year preceding their son's death, their household expenses exceeded their income by more than $4,500. The claimants asserted that for the year 1975 their household expenses amounted to $17,083, and that their income was only $12,584, which was the salary of claimant Ralph Walzer. The claimants' evidence in support of their contention consisted of various documents, and testimony which, in the main, came from Mrs. Walzer.
On August 7, 1978, after having held several hearing sessions, the referee entered a decision dismissing the claimants' Petition. The referee concluded that the claimants had failed to prove that the decedent's earnings were needed to provide them, or either of them, with the ordinary necessities of life for people in their position. Following an appeal by the claimants, the Board, on February 14, 1979, remanded the case to the referee for clarification of his decision.
On September 22, 1980, the referee issued a new decision, and again dismissed the claimants' Petition. In setting forth the bases for his second decision, the referee made the finding that the claimants' valid expenses for the year 1975 were $12,526, instead of the $17,083 they had alleged. The referee also found that the claimants did not need the decedent's earnings to maintain their scale of life, and that, moreover, the claimants had been subsidizing the ...