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Tucker v. Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 18, 2014

MICHAEL J. TUCKER, Appellant,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD, Appellee.

Submitted: April 16, 2014

On Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Michael J. Tucker, Pro Se Appellant.

Catherine Damavandi, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Appellee the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

OPINION

DIANE CLARKE STREETT JUDGE

Introduction

Appellant Michael J. Tucker ("Appellant") appeals the December 4, 2013 decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (the "Board"). The Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision that Appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3315(3). The Board adopted the Appeals Referee's finding that Appellant was unable to work and unavailable for work based on a medical certificate completed by his doctor that he had submitted to the Delaware Department of Labor (the "DOL") in support of his benefits claim.

Appellant contends that the Board erred because the Appeals Referee only considered his inability to perform the duties of his usual occupation without considering that his doctor's medical certificate had cleared him for other full-time work.

Because the Appeals Referee did not address whether Appellant was able to work and available for work in a different occupation, the Board's decision is reversed and the matter is remanded to the Board for further proceedings consistent with the Court's decision.

Factual Background

Appellant was last employed as a house manager.[1] The identity of Appellant's last employer, the dates of his employment, the reason for his separation, and the last date that he actually worked were not addressed in the Board's decision and are not included in the record.

Procedural Background

Appellant submitted a claim for unemployment benefits, effective August 11, 2013.[2]

On August 19, 2013, James Rubano, M.D., of Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists, completed the DOL's "Claimant's Authorization for Release of Information/Doctor's Certificate" form.[3] Dr. Rubano indicated on that form that Appellant had been under his care since April 19, 2013 for right knee pain and total left knee replacement surgery. Dr. Rubano also indicated that although Appellant was totally disabled from performing the duties required in his current occupation between April 19, 2013 and September 30, 2013, Appellant was permitted to work full-time "sedentary desk work" with the restriction of "no physical activity." Dr. Rubano did not specify the exact date that Appellant was permitted to perform other work on a full-time basis, but the DOL form did not prompt him to do so.

On August 30, 2013, the Claims Deputy issued a Notice of Determination and found that Appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3315(3).[4] The Claims Deputy reasoned that Appellant was not able to work and was unavailable for work when he filed his claim because Appellant had "provided medical documentation indicating he [was] not available for work through [September 30, 2013]."[5] The Claims Deputy also found that Appellant would ...


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