Are you a Florida employee who has been injured at work? If you are eligible for workers’ compensation wage benefits, you may be wondering how much you can count on receiving. So, how do you calculate workers’ comp wages? There are specific formulas to use to calculate your disability wage benefits. The right calculation depends upon whether you are partially or totally sidelined from work and whether your injury is temporary or permanent.
Steps to Calculate Workers Comp Wages
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
If you have been told you have a TPD, this means you could return to work, but with restrictions. You may be unable to perform usual tasks, and may be directed to avoid heavy lifting, standing on your feet, or repetitive motion. In this case, your employer has the option to provide you with temporary “light duty” tasks (and/or reduced work hours), but may choose not to do so.
If you receive a light duty job, you should earn 80% of your average weekly wage (AWW) in the new position. AWW is calculated by dividing the amount you earned in the past 52 weeks by 52. If you earn 80% of your AWW, you will not be entitled to any supplemental wages. But, if you earn less than 80% of your customary wages on light duty, the workers’ compensation carrier owes you wages. They are expected to make up 80% of your loss of income.
For example, let’s say you normally make $1,000 a week at work. You are making $800 on light duty, so you have a $200 weekly shortfall. Your TPD benefit would be 80% of this shortfall, or $160. With these supplemental wages, you would be receiving $960 instead of your customary $1,000 a week.
If your employer does not accommodate your partial injury with restricted duty, you are entitled to 64% of your AWW through workers’ compensation. Thus, you would receive $640 of your $1,000 weekly wage.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
For a more serious injury that calls for lengthy recuperation time, you can receive two-thirds of your AWW during the recovery period. However, there is a maximum allowed wage benefit, now $917 a week in Florida. If the injury is considered catastrophic (e.g., paralysis, loss of sight), the benefit rises to 80% of your AWW, with no maximum.
So, if you normally earned $1,000 a week, you could receive $666.66 per week for a non-catastrophic TTD. (If you earned $2,000 weekly, the calculation would come to $1,333.32, but you would only be entitled to $917 a week – the allowed TTD maximum.) For catastrophic injury, your AWW of $1,000 would yield $800 a week.
Note that TTD wage benefits don’t kick in until you have missed seven days of work. But, if you end up being out of work for more than 21 days, you will be reimbursed for the first week of lost wages. You can receive weekly benefits for up to 260 weeks. Workers’ comp benefits typically cease when the doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or you are released to return to full duty.
Permanent wage benefits drop to 75% of what you receive while on temporary disability. So, if you received $666.66 a week in total temporary benefits and are declared permanently impaired, you would qualify for about $500 a week for permanent total disability (PTD).
For a PTD or permanent partial disability (PPD), you are paid according to the permanent impairment rating (PIR) the doctor assigns. The chart to calculate these benefits is as follows:
Degree of Impairment Weeks Paid Per Point
1 to 10% Two weeks
11 to 15% Three weeks
16 to 20% Four weeks
21% or more Six weeks
These calculations are tiered, so, for example, you would receive 20 weeks’ pay for the first 10% impairment (2 x 10), an additional 15 weeks if you are 15% impaired (3 x 5), and 20 weeks more for a 20% impairment (4 x 5).
In these cases, lump sums are available — and negotiable. If there is a catastrophic injury, there is generally a lump sum in addition to wage loss benefits.
How Do You Calculate Workers’ Comp Wages?
Workers’ compensation benefits computations can be confusing. If you are still uncertain, or have any questions pertaining to your workers’ comp rights and benefits, don’t hesitate to contact a workers comp lawyer at Feldman Williams for help.