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Falcone v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

July 9, 2013

Anthony A. Falcone, Petitioner
v.
Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Respondent

Submitted: March 8, 2013

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge

OPINION

P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge

Petitioner Anthony A. Falcone (Claimant), pro se, petitions for review of an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board). The Board affirmed the Unemployment Compensation Referee's (Referee) decision, denying Claimant's request for backdating of his application for unemployment compensation benefits and claims weeks. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

On or about June 30, 2012, Claimant electronically applied for unemployment benefits, requesting, on the basis of medical reasons, that his application be backdated to May 13, 2012. (Certified Record (C.R.), Items No. 1-2.) In addition, Claimant also requested backdating of his claims for the weeks ending May 26, 2012, through June 30, 2012. (Id.) The Duquesne UC Service Center (Service Center) issued a determination, denying Claimant's request for backdating of his application and claims weeks. (C.R., Item No. 3.) Claimant appealed the Service Center's determination, and a Referee conducted an evidentiary hearing.

At the hearing, Claimant testified that he worked as a full-time salesperson for Foundation Radiology Group, Inc. (Employer), earning a salary of $90, 000. (C.R., Item No. 7 at 3.) Claimant testified that Employer laid him off and that his last day of work was May 14, 2012. (Id.) He also testified that on June 30, 2012, he applied for unemployment benefits via the internet. (Id. at 3-4.) He testified that he waited until the end of June to apply for benefits because a number of his close relatives had severe medical issues. (Id. at 4.) Specifically, Claimant testified that, since the beginning of May 2012, his eighty-two-year-old mother's health declined as a result of cancer. (Id.) Also, he had to provide urgent medical care to his seven-year-old son, whose developmental issues had become exacerbated. (Id.) Claimant further testified that his maternal uncle, with whom he has a close relationship, was hospitalized for "much of the month of June [2012]." (Id.) Claimant testified that when he eventually applied for unemployment compensation benefits, it took him approximately thirty minutes to complete and file his application for benefits electronically. (Id. at 5.) Finally, he testified that the reason he did not file his application prior to June 30, 2012, was that he was distracted and that "[his] 100 percent attention was [directed] to getting the care for all three of them." (Id.)

Following the hearing, the Referee issued a decision, affirming the Service Center's determination denying Claimant's request for backdating. The Referee made the following relevant findings:

1. The claimant was last employed by Foundation Radiology Group, Inc. as a full-time Salesperson from May 4, 2011 until his last day worked of May 14, 2012, at a final annual salary of $90, 000.00.
2. The claimant's mother is 82 years old and was admitted to the hospital at the beginning of May 2012.
3. The claimant's seven year-old son has developmental issues.
4. The claimant used the internet to open an application for benefits on [or] about June 30, 2012.

(C.R., Item No. 8.) Based on Section 401(c) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law), [1] relating to qualifications required to secure compensation, and 34 Pa. Code § 65.43a, [2] relating to extended filings, the Referee denied Claimant's "request to backdate the date of his application to May 13, 2012 and to backdate credit for the waiting week ending May 19, 2012 and the claim weeks ending May 26, 2012 through June 30, 2012." (Id.)

Claimant appealed to the Board, and the Board affirmed the Referee's decision. (C.R., Item No. 10.) In affirming the Referee's decision, the Board adopted and incorporated the Referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law. (Id.) Furthermore, the Board specifically noted that "the medical issues of the claimant's immediate family members, were serious, but they existed over a considerable period of time and should not have kept the claimant from timely filing for benefits." (Id.)

On appeal, [3] Claimant argues that the Board erred in affirming the Referee's decision denying his request for backdating. Specifically, Claimant argues that under 34 Pa. Code § 65.43a, his mother's and son's medical issues entitle him to have his application for benefits backdated by six weeks. Based on the same regulation, he also argues that he is entitled to have his claim weeks ending on May 26, 2012, through June 30, 2012, backdated. In response, the Board counters that Claimant did not prove how his immediate family members' sickness prevented him from filing his application for benefits timely and as a result, he is ineligible for extended filing. The Board further argues that ...


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