Pennsylvania 2017 Workers Compensation Wage Rates

Pennsylvania Workers CompThe Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released the 2017 Average Weekly Wage chart with the new year wage loss rates.  This chart determines what an injured worker receives for wage loss weekly benefits based on his/her average weekly wage earnings.    Under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, injured workers are not entitled to their full wages.

If you are injured at work in 2017 and are out of work and entitled to indemnity benefits, here are the wage rates.

Pennsylvania 2017 Average Weekly Wage Workers Compensation Rates

Maximum Rate:  $995.00 per week.  This maximum rate is the most that can be paid out while an injured worker is out of work.  The maximum rate applies to any injured worker who averages a weekly wage of $1,492.51 and above.  It does not matter how much above the $1,492.51 you are, the maximum rate you can receive is $995.00 per week.

If your average weekly wage is between $746.26 and $1,492.50 per week, you will receive two-third of your average weekly wage.  For example, if your average weekly wage is $900.00 per week, then your weekly compensation rate would be $600.03 per week if you are out of work because of a work injury.

If your average weekly wage is between $552.78 and $746.25 per week, then your weekly compensation rate is set at $497.50.  Does not matter if your average weekly wage is at the low end near $552.78 or the high end of $746.25, your compensation rate is the same at $497.50.

If your average weekly wage is less than $552.77, you will receive 90% of your average weekly wage.  For example, if your average weekly wage is $450.00 per week, then you will receive $405.00 per week if you are out of work because of a work injury, which is 90% of $450.00.

What all is included in my Average Weekly Wage in Pennsylvania

The calculation of your average weekly wage takes into account more than just your hourly wages.  They are calculated over four 13 week periods.  There are special rules if you have not worked   four 13 week periods or worked less than a single 13 week period.  Besides wages, your average weekly wage also includes bonuses, vacation, incentives, and overtime.   It is extremely important that the calculation is correct.  Many times, insurance carriers are not provided all the wage data from the employer.

Calculating your average weekly wage is critical in a Pennsylvania workers compensation case.  Just a small error in your calculated average weekly wage could costs you thousands of dollars.  For example, let’s say your average weekly wage was miscalculated by $40 per week.  Your compensation rate if $600 per week, and should have been $640 per week.  Let’s say you settled your case for a specific period of disability.  At $600 per week, let’s say you settled for $93,600. If your average weekly wage was correct at $640 per week, the same settlement you would have received $99,840.  Just a $40 error would have cost you $6,240.  That is why it is absolutely critical to be sure your average weekly wage is correct.

If you feel that your average weekly wage is incorrect, call our office today for a FREE CONSULTATION.  If it is indeed incorrect, we can attempt to work that out with your insurance carrier or file a Review Petition that will ask a Workers Compensation Judge to review the wage issue.  We have fourteen office locations scattered throughout Central Pennsylvania.  We come to you!  If you would like to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION, simply give us a call at 717-200-HURT or drop me an email.  You can contact me by email through the right side bar.

 

Common Pennsylvania Nursing Home Work Injuries

nursing home back injury We see many common nursing home injuries in Pennsylvania.  It is like a repeated story that you’ve heard over and over again.  With the growing elderly population due to aging baby boomers and the fact that Pennsylvania is a retirement friendly state, nursing homes are increasingly busy and that also means that job demands within the nursing homes are becoming more intense.  That ultimately leads to a rise in common nursing home work injuries.

Those nursing home work injuries are spread throughout the healthcare work force, from LPNs to CNAs to Maintenance staff, and to food service workers.  In all of these positions, the job demands can be physically demanding and stressful.

So what are the common nursing home work injuries?

Repetitive Trauma/Overexertion.  OSHA has published recent reports on the susceptibility of health care workers to work injuries and hazards.    In fact, latest statistics indicate that healthcare workers are more than seven times more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries.   These types of injuries can be strain/sprains, slipped discs, disc herniation, ligament and muscle tears, and aggravation of pre-existing conditions that were primarily non-symptomatic prior to the work event.  Much of this spurns from handling activities, such as lifting and supporting nursing home patients.  I’ve personally had many nursing home employee clients who were injured while manually lifting patients while transferring them in and out of beds or chairs.  These type of injuries also frequently occur when an employees attempts to stop a patient from falling.  These type of activities frequently lead to back, neck, and shoulder injuries.

back-work-injury

Slips and falls.  When water or liquids are spilled on the floor of a nursing home or hospital, a healthcare worker can fall on the slick floor.  We have seen slip and falls on urine in the bathroom or alongside the beds.  These type of injuries cause a wide array of injuries, including back, neck, shoulder, knee, and concussion type injuries.

Understaffing.   Unfortunately, here in Central Pennsylvania, this has been an issue.  Whether the understaffing comes from lack of work force, employee shift call offs, or purposeful staff reductions, understaffing leads to work injuries.  It certainly increases the risk of repetitive trauma injuries to the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck.  Understaffing leads to injuries because of pressure to work quicker due to staff shortfalls, and due to the fact that many times, support and assistance in repositioning and moving patients simply is not there.  That leads to LPNs and CNAs doing a two person job with one person available.  You can see how that story will play out.

Patient Violence.  Yes, patient violence.   Often times, nursing home patient may not be of sound mind.  I have had injuries clients who were repeatedly punched, kicked, and bitten by patients.  Some of these injuries can be quite serious.

There are many other type of injuries, including needles, infections, occupational diseases, and more.  The ones listed above are what we frequently see in our law firm.

What can you do?

If you are a nursing home / health care worker in Central Pennsylvania and have been injured on the job, first report the injury immediately to a supervisor.  That is priority number one.  Get it documented.  Second, seek medical treatment right away.  Finally, call us toll free at 1-877-632-4656 or locally at 717-200-HELP   to set up a FREE consultation with us.  Your workers compensation benefits are much too important to go it alone.   You can also contact me directly by email.  My contact information is on the right side bar.

Social Security Disability COLA set by the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration has set a Social Security Disability COLA and other monthly benefit recipient.  This not only includes retirees, but also SSD and SSI recipients.  Unfortunately, the COLA amount is just .3%.

The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2017. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2016. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

mooney social security disability attorneyTo show you how small of an amount 03% increase is, it would raise the Social Security average benefit amount form $1355 per month to $1366 per month.

Now, do not get too excited about this very nominal COLA increase.  You will not see it anyhow.  Due to increases in Medicare premiums, any increases you may have seen in your Disability or Retirement benefits will be eaten up by those Medicare premiums increases.

Last year, Social Security recipients did not see any increases.  That is truly a shame.  The folks who need a simply COLA increase the most will gut through without any increase again, despite rising prices.

Other changes that effect Social Security Disability: Monthly Substantial Gainful Activity Amounts increases.  Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is a social security term that identifies an amount that an individual can’t make over and be eligible for Social Security Disability.    In other words, if you make under SGA you can sill be eligible for social security disability, but if you make over the monthly amount, then you are deemed to be able to perform substantial gainful activity and therefore not eligible for disability benefits.  For 2017, SGA monthly amount has been increased from $1,030 per month to $1,070 per month.

For disability and retiree recipients, SSA put together a nice fact sheet on changes for 2017.  You can view that here.