The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has released the 2023 average weekly wage rates. The Department set the maximum disability rate of $1,273.00, an increase of $68.00 per week over the 2022 maximum rate. That maximum rate means no matter how high your average weekly wage is, the maximum rate an injured worker can receive weekly $1273.00 per week. If your AWW is between $707.22 and $954.75, then the weekly compensation rate is set at $636.50. That is an increase of $34 per week over 2022. If your AWW is below $669.44, then your disability rate is calculated at 90% of your AWW. If you wage rate is higher than $954.75, then your compensation rate would be 2/3 your average weekly wage, not to exceed the maximum $1273.00 per week. Another important note for injured workers to remember is that your weekly disability rate is set at the time of your injury. This rate is not impacted by raises, cost of living adjustments, or anything like that. It remains set for the duration of your work-related injury.
How is the injured workers’ average weekly wage determine?
Your compensation rate is based on your gross average earnings before taxes are taken out. For injured workers who have been employed more than three consecutive 13 week periods, the average weekly wage is calculated by taking the three highest 13 week periods out of the last four 13 week periods, immediately preceding the date of injury. If you have been employed for less time, then the average weekly wage is determined by dividing by the 13 the total wages earned for any complete 13 week period preceding the date of injury. Finally, if the injured worker has been employed less than 13 weeks, then the average weekly wage is determined by the hourly rate multiplied by hours worked or expected to be worked in a week. These can be fact sensitive calculations that can be determined by the Workers’ Compensation Judge based on documentary evidence and testimony from the injured worker and employer. By way of example, let’s assume you were injured after working just three weeks. Let’s also assume you worked 40 hours per week those three weeks at a $25.00 hourly rate. Your average weekly wage would be $1000.00 per week ($25.00 X 40 hours). Looking above at the approved wage rates, you would have a compensation rate of $666.70, since you average weekly wage is higher than $954.75, you would be paid 2/3 your average weekly wage. Additionally, other monetary items included in the average weekly wage calculation are gross wages including overtime, bonuses, tips that you reported to the IRS, vacation pay, and even payments for lodging.
Making sure the average weekly wage is calculated properly is critical in a workers’ compensation case. Sometimes insurance adjusters do not know the injured worker worked overtime or was unaware of bonuses that were paid. That can impact average weekly wage calculations. Here is why the calculation of the AWW is so critical.
Let’s assume an individual gets hurt at work in 2023 and the AWW is calculated to be $600.00 per week. Based on the rate chart released by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, that would provide a weekly disability compensation rate of 90% of $600.00 per week, which would make the compensation rate to be $540.00 per week. Let’s assume the case settles for two years of disability. That would provide a settlement value of $56,160.00. Now, let’s again assume that the AWW was not calculated correctly. Let’s assume the insurance carrier had wrong wage information and was unaware of bonuses or overtime. Let’s assume the AWW should have been $710.00 per week. Looking above, you wage rate should have been $636.50. A two-year settlement at $636.50 per week would be $66,196.00. That’s a $10,036.00 mistake. In addition, if the injured worker was on weekly benefits prior to settlement, those benefits would also been higher if the correct average weekly wage was determined. Ensuring your average weekly wage is calculated correctly is absolutely critical to you.
This is just another example of why treading through a workers compensation case on your own is a dangerous venture. Getting expert advice will ensure your wages are calculated correctly, that you do not sign forms from the insurance carrier that you should not sign, that you get the medical treatment you need, and that you get the benefits that you deserve. Insurance companies have defense counsel reviewing your case, shouldn’t you be protected on your end? Call Mooney Law today at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656 for a FREE CONSULTATION. You can also email us to schedule a free consultation at email@example.com. You can also visit Mooney Law on the web.