For most Pennsylvania workers hurt on the job, your workers' compensation rate for periods off work will be at least two thirds of your pre-injury "Average Weekly Wage." For those working at low wages, Pennsylvania workers' compensation will will pay as much as ninety-percent (90%) of your pre-injury Average Weekly Wage, and benfits are tax free. High wage earners will find their rate capped at certain maximums, which vary from year to year. For example, in 2016 the maximum compensation payable under the Workers' Compensation Act is $978.00 per week, applicable to folks earning over $1,467.00 per week.
Fortunately, taxes are not chargeable on workers' compensation payments, which often helps substantially in making up the difference between the check you will receive after a Pennsylvania workers' compensation claim is recognized and what you would have earned while working.
In PA workers' comp, "Average Weekly Wage" is calculated under various formulas, all intended to result in a fair reflection of the wages you were actually making at the time of injury -- including calculations for a past history of overtime and additional sums if you were working more than one job when an injury at a particular job caused you to become disabled. Average Weekly Wage can be calculated even for workers who are injured very soon after accepting a new job. There are formulas acknowledged under the Act that allow for calculation even when the employee has worked less than a single pay week, or even only a single day, at the time of their work injury.
Unfortunately, the Average Weekly Wage you were earning in the period leading up to your work injury forever controls your resulting workers' compensation rate. Your rate will not go up even if all of your co-workers get a raise while you are out with an injury, any more than it would drop if all your co-workers are laid off while you are out and receivinve workers' compensation benefits.
Your Average Weekly Wage and resulting benefit rate will also contol the value of the work injury lump sum settlement
you may be able to secure, as well as the amount of every weekly check while you are out or working limited hours. This means it is very important to force the insurer and employer to get it right, and to get the highest possible rate you are entitled to under the circumstances of your claim.
Employers and insurers will very frequently abuse and manipulate the calculation of an employee's Average Weekly Wage and resulting compensation rate under the Act. We frequently see injured workers receiving less than they are due when they first come to us. This is particularly common for workers with a short history of wage earnings with the date of injury employer or workers who may have had overtime prior to becoming injured. Workers who have returned to work "with no loss of earnings" are also frequently not paid what they are due, where their return to light duty may mean a loss of overtime pay they enjoyed prior to their injury, fewer overall hours, or more lost time week to week despite work being available.
Insurers and employers often know full well they are underpaying a worker, relying on the fact that although they know better, the injured employee will not know how to enforce their rights.
Compensation benefits are to be paid at the same intervals as pre-injury wages. That is, if you were paid weekly by the employer, the WC insurance carrier should issue compensation checks at the same weekly intervals.
If you have questions about the amount of your workers compensation check, if your checks are not coming consistently, or if you feel you are being underpaid either while off work completely or while working restricted duty with a loss of hours or overtime, call us. We can act quickly to get you paid a chunk of change to completely make up for any past-due periods of underpayment, and ensure that ongoing and future checks are at the maximum amount you are due under the Act.
Our attorneys and paralegals are available to discuss any questions you may have about how much you should be getting in Pennsylvania workers' compensation benefits. Call our main line at 484-453-8144 now.