When you are out of work completely, your lost wage benefits are calculated based on two things. The first is your “Average Weekly Wage”." This number reflects your gross earnings, on average, for one year prior to your injury. The higher your Average Weekly Wage, the higher your benefits will be.
The second factor affecting your benefits is your degree of temporary impairment, which is given by your doctor and usually expressed as a percentage. A 100% temporary total disability implies that you are unable to work in any capacity, not even in a sedentary job. Many injured workers think that they are 100% disabled if they cannot return to their at-injury job. This is incorrect. While you may not be able to return to your at-injury job, if your doctor feels you can perform work with restrictions, you are not 100% disabled.
The degree of impairment is not just based on your doctor’s opinion, but may also be based on Insurance Carrier’s doctor, or Independent Medical Examiner’s opinion. If there is a difference of opinion in your degree of impairment between your doctor and the Carrier’s doctor, a rate is usually negotiated or litigated and left up to a judge where appropriate.
If you are 100% disabled, your benefit will be two-thirds of your Average Weekly Wage. The checks are calculated weekly and are not taxable.
The weekly rates are subject to maximums and minimums. The maximum rate for injuries occurring between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024 is $1,145.43. The minimum rate is currently $150.00, but this minimum will increase to $275 starting on January 1, 2024. It will increase again to $325 in 2025, and in 2026, the minimum will culminate at one-fifth of the state's AWW.
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