Though the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act does not have a cost-of-living increase, as seen with Social Security Disability benefits, the maximum workers’ compensation rate does increase every year. This, of course, does not impact existing injuries, only those that take place in this calendar year. The PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has just announced that the maximum workers’ compensation rate for injuries taking place in 2019 will be $1,049.00 per week. This is up from the $1,025.00 maximum rate for 2018 work injuries.
Calculating the specific workers’ compensation rate in a case can become complicated. Essentially, we look at the wages earned by the injured worker in the year prior to the work injury. This year is then split into four quarters, and an average is taken of the highest three of the quarters. We are then left with the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). Depending on the figures, the workers’ compensation 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. Those workers earning very high wages, creating a rate that would be above the maximum compensation rate, will receive less than 2/3 of the AWW.
There can also be confusion over what is allowed to be included in an AWW calculation. Another job held by the employee (called “concurrent employment”) is certainly includable, as is overtime and most bonuses. Fringe benefits and self-employment earnings are two things that are not part of the AWW.