Understand Wage Loss Claims To Maximize Your Workers’ Comp Benefits
Employees who have been injured on the job may collect workers’ compensation wage loss benefits while they heal and recuperate. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws provide very detailed mathematical formulas to calculate the injured worker’s “average” salary, and the corresponding Workers’ Compensation benefit rate. These calculations MUST include bonuses, commissions, board and lodging and even income from any second (or third) jobs the injured worker may have had at the time they were injured.
The largest “bracket” of earnings will result in a compensation rate that is two-thirds of the worker’s “average” earnings. There are exceptions, of course, to the two-thirds rule. There is a statutory maximum wage loss benefit ($888 in 2012), which is obviously disadvantageous to highly paid employees. Depending on a few other factors, disabled workers who earn less than the average statewide worker will receive a fixed rate or 90% of their prior earnings. In addition, there are calculations and rules that affect your total benefits paid for wage loss, dependent upon the number of total days you miss work due to your injury. The Media, Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation lawyers at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, will explain everything you need to know, and can ensure that your employer’s carrier does not miscalculate the wage loss benefits to which you are entitled.
Distinguishing Partial Disability And Temporary Total Disability Wage Loss
Your benefits will be affected by the way your disability is classified after a workplace injury. You should understand the definitions and opportunities for compensation that go with the terms “partial disability” and “temporary total disability.”
If you work in any county across Pennsylvania, a determination will be made after you suffer a work-related injury as to whether you have a partial disability (meaning that you have the ability to return to work in some jobs even though you have not fully recovered from your injury). This determination may lead to a reduction in your wage loss benefits. You should anticipate such a proceeding by your employer if you are examined by an “insurance company doctor” and then receive a form called “ability to return to work.”
In other cases, employers may offer a light duty job if you are found to be partially disabled. Even though this job may pay less than you were earning before your accident, you will still receive two-thirds of the difference from the workers’ compensation carrier. If you don’t believe that you are capable of the light duty job because of your accident-caused disability, you can contest the employer’s efforts to force you back to work, or their threat to stop or reduce your benefits. This petition will require the testimony of a doctor on your behalf, and competent legal advice can make the experience less intimidating and more successful in the long run.
Temporary Total Disability
These wage loss benefits were discussed above and refer to the benefits you collect when you cannot work at all immediately following your accident or injury. While there is no actual expiration date for temporary total disability benefits, you may be requested to submit to a re-evaluation of your disability status after 104 weeks. If, at that point, the determination is made that you are less than 50% disabled, your benefits will be subject to a maximum cap of 500 weeks at the same rate of pay.
As you can see, there are many calculations involved in protecting your rights, and the paperwork alone can be daunting. On top of this, some employers will try to reduce or terminate your benefits, miscalculate benefits, refuse to recognize all of your injuries as work-related, or ask you to sign documents that can limit your rights to benefits.
We Can Help Protect Your Right To Benefits
An experienced, tenacious work injury attorney like those at the law firm of Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing your wage loss benefits following an injury on the job. Call us today at 610-601-5399 or contact us online for a free consultation with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorney and get the answers you need for your wage loss benefits claim.