On June 2, the Supreme Court of Wyoming ruled that while calculating the total disability benefits of a workers’ compensation claimant, the income of the claimant’s spouse cannot be taken into account.

The ruling in State of Wyoming, ex rel., Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division vs. Richard A. Johnson upheld the 2007 district court reversal of the decision of a hearing officer to deny benefits due to the income Richard Johnson’s wife generated, according to court records.

Johnson is an oil rig worker who sustained a work-related injury in 1984 and was determined to be permanently and totally disabled in 1993, court records show. He received disability benefits through 2005, when the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division of Wyoming refused an extension of his benefit because the combined income of his household was greater than its expenses, according to records.

In 2006, the decision was upheld by the Office of Administrative Hearings, citing a law in effect in 1993 that said that all household income was required to be considered when determining eligibility for benefits.

The Supreme Court disagreed, instead agreeing with the claimant that under the law’s meaning, household income is restricted to only the earnings of the injured employee.
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