As we have mentioned in the past, unlike Social Security Disability benefits, PA workers’ comp benefits have no cost-of-living increase. However, the maximum rate of workers’ compensation benefit that an injured worker can receive does increase annually. Unfortunately, this only affects injuries taking place in the new calendar year. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has announced that the maximum workers’ compensation rate for injuries taking place in 2020 will be $1,081.00. This is increased from the maximum rate for 2019 of $1,049.00.
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act sets forth the procedure for the calculation of the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). From this figure, we determine the temporary total disability rate, often just referred to as the workers’ compensation rate. Depending on the figures, the workers’ compensation rate is usually 2/3 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, which would mean he or she would receive less than 2/3 of the AWW.
This can be a complicated area in the PA workers’ comp system, both through the calculation of the AWW and the workers’ compensation rate, as well as what can be included within the AWW calculation. Insurance carriers frequently make mistakes in these calculations (yet, rarely are these “mistakes” to the benefit of the injured worker).