As happens every year around this time, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has released the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) for the coming year. For 2021, the SAWW is $1,130.00, an increase over the $1,081.00 of 2020. The SAWW represents the maximum weekly workers’ compensation rate an injured worker can receive in PA (for injuries taking place in 2021).
Unfortunately, those injured before 2021 do not see any change in their workers’ compensation rate with this change. While other benefit programs, such as Social Security Disability, feature an annual cost-of-living increase, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act contains no such option. The rate in place at the time of the work injury is the rate that will remain for the life of that injury, no matter the extent of the disability.
The calculation of the workers’ compensation rate is provided for in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. First, we must determine the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). From this figure, we compute the temporary total disability rate, which we generally call the workers’ compensation rate. Depending on the figures, the workers’ compensation rate is usually two-thirds of the AWW, though that is just the general rule. Mid-range AWW can result in a workers’ compensation rate of half of the maximum rate. A lower AWW can lead to a workers’ compensation rate at 90% of the AWW. On the other hand, an injured worker earning a very high wage would create a workers’ compensation rate limited by the maximum compensation rate (the SAWW discussed above), which would mean he or she would receive less than 2/3 of the AWW.