Each party’s income is relevant in the context of a support action. Pennsylvania can assign an earning capacity for parties who are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. There are recognized exceptions to avoid having income imputed if you do not work. One of those exceptions is if you are physically incapable of working. In the event that a party in a support matter asserts an inability to work due to medical issues, the support rules require that a physician verification form be completed. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.) 1910.29 (b), the physician verification form should be completed by the party’s physician and submitted at the time of the support conference. A sample of the actual form to be used is contained in Pa.R.C.P. 1910.29(b)(3).
If the support matter does not settle at the conference and a hearing will be necessary, the physician verification form can be admitted into evidence if certain requirements are met. First, the party intending to use the physician verification form must serve a copy on the other side within 20 days from the conference date. The other party then has 10 days from receipt of the physician verification form to file an objection. If no objection is received, the form may be accepted into evidence without requiring the physician’s testimony. If an objection is made, the physician would need to testify in court and the court would determine how the cost of the testimony will be divided among the parties.
If a party receives Social Security disability or workers’ compensation benefits, proof of income from those sources would be submitted in lieu of the physician verification form. The amount of Social Security disability or workers’ compensation is treated as income for support purposes and utilized for any applicable support calculations in their case.