The Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has just announced that the maximum workers’ compensation rate for injuries suffered in 2015 will be $951.00 per week. This is an increase over the $932.00 for injuries suffered in 2014. While we applaud the increase, we continue to be mindful of the general unfairness that workers’ comp benefits in PA are calculated as of the date of injury . . . and then forever fixed at that level. Unfortunately, some work injuries are very severe and require the injured worker to be on workers’ compensation for years. We long for the day when cost-of-living adjustments are made, as they are in Social Security Disability. It seems only the fair way to handle long term, chronic, injuries.
The workers’ compensation rate calculation can be a complicated process, depending on the situation. Generally speaking, the wages of the injured worker from the day before the injury going back one year are gathered. We divide this into four quarters, then take the average of the highest three quarters. This is the “Average Weekly Wage” (AWW). Depending on the amount, the workers’ comp rate is usually 2/3 of the AWW, though that can vary. For lower wages, the rate can be as high as 90% of the AWW. For those workers above the maximum compensation rate, the percentage can be less than 2/3.
Making sure the AWW is properly calculated, to be sure you are getting the fullest extent of compensation possible, is yet another reason to come to an attorney certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation law, as are the attorneys at Brilliant & Neiman LLC.