Ohio: Unpaid Work for Wife’s Business Warranted Forfeiture of Benefits, But Not Finding of Fraudulent Activity

The Supreme Court of Ohio, affirming a decision of a lower level appellate court, recently held that while a claimant could not receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for any period in which he or she worked [Ohio Rev. Code § 4123.56(A)], under the facts of the case, a finding that the claimant committed fraud by submitting disability paperwork to the Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation could not stand.  He completed paperwork that certified that he was not working, when in fact he had performed unpaid activities for his wife’s business. Citing earlier decisions, the court held that where the activities were not minimal and directly generated income for a separate entity, they may be considered “work” and could disqualify a claimant from receiving TTD benefits, even where no pay is received. A finding of fraud, however, was another thing. There must be evidence that claimant had knowledge that his unpaid activity “work.” The state supreme court held that here there was no such evidence. The fraud declaration could not stand [ State ex rel. McBee v. Industrial Comm’n, 2012 Ohio 2678, 2012 Ohio LEXIS 1531 (June 19, 2012)].

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