Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Seymour Hochman, decedent, Slyvia Hochman and Estate of Seymour Hochman v. S & S Associates, Inc., No. A-81241.
David L. Pennington, with him Susan McLaughlin, Harvey, Pennington, Herting & Renneisen, Ltd., for petitioners.
Gerald J. Haas, for respondent, Sylvia Hochman, widow of Seymour Hochman.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
This is an appeal of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a
referee's award on a Fatal Claim Petition in favor of Sylvia Hochman, the widow of Seymour Hochman. We reverse.
This case arises out of the fatal shooting of Seymour Hochman on September 25, 1975.*fn1 The record indicates that Seymour and Sylvia Hochman had been separated since April 14, 1972 and Seymour Hochman had been living in the Philadelphia area with another woman in the residence owned jointly by himself and his estranged wife. Sylvia Hochman lived in a two bedroom apartment in Boston. The Hochman's daughter, Ellen, lived with her mother when not attending Boston University. At the time of his death, Seymour Hochman was earning $17,120.00 per year. Sylvia Hochman was employed as a dental hygienist and was earning $225.00 per week, or $11,700.00 per year. Sylvia Hochman received no payments in support during her separation from her husband and prior to his death, Seymour Hochman had removed his wife and daughter from coverage under his medical insurance and had begun divorce proceedings against his wife for desertion. During the time of the separation, Seymour Hochman continued to make payments on a mortgage on the jointly owned house and made payments on a note which Sylvia Hochman had cosigned.
Section 307 of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn2 provides, in pertinent part:
No compensation shall be payable under this section to a widow, unless she was living with her deceased husband at the time of his death, or was then actually dependent upon him and receiving from him a substantial portion of her support.
The referee found, and the Board affirmed, that Sylvia Hochman was dependent on her estranged husband for support within the purview of Section 307 because he continued to make payments on debts for which Sylvia Hochman was jointly liable. We disagree.*fn3 One of the debts was a mortgage on the property which Sylvia Hochman had left and in which Seymour Hochman continued to live; the other was a loan for Seymour Hochman's business for which the house stood as collateral. The benefit of continued payment on both these debts would inure primarily to Seymour Hochman. In light of his failure to provide any support payments to his wife and his removal of his wife and daughter from his medical insurance plan, ...