How Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Lost Wages in Pennsylvania?

If you are injured at work, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation pay for lost wages. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides a formula for calculating lost wages when a worker is injured on the job. The formula is based on your average weekly wages, and the calculation of that figure can cause questions. 

If the workers’ compensation insurance company does not use the correct amount for your average weekly wages, you could receive less money than you deserve. 

Compensation for Lost Wages After a Workplace Injury

If you are unable to work at all after an injury at work, you can receive temporary total disability or TTD benefits. If you can perform some duties for your employer but cannot work full-time, you can receive temporary partial disability or TPD benefits. 

In either case, the amount you receive for workers’ comp benefits does not reimburse you fully for your lost income. Workers’ compensation only reimburses you for a portion of the income you lose because of a work-related injury.

Calculating Average Weekly Wages for Temporary Disability Benefits

The first step is to calculate your average weekly wages or AWW. The quarter with the highest earnings over the past year is the basis for your average weekly wages. In other words, you calculate your gross income for each week over the past 52 weeks. 

Divide the weeks into quarters based on 13 weeks in each quarter. The total from the highest-earning quarter is divided by 13 to calculate the average weekly wage for workers’ compensation. You should receive two-thirds of that amount each week as income benefits. 

All income received each week that is taxable may be included when calculating your AWW. Therefore, you may include bonuses, commissions, and other taxable income you received from your employer. However, untaxed tips or other forms of compensation are not included in the calculation of your AWW. 

Even though the process for calculating average weekly wages appears to be straightforward and simple, several factors can complicate the matter. 

As stated above, unreported income cannot be included in AWW. Therefore, some people who are paid under the table or do not report all income could receive less in workers’ comp benefits. 

Also, if you have not worked for the same employer for the past 52 weeks, you must use your income from all employers during the past 52 weeks to calculate your average weekly wages. If you have not worked 52 weeks before the accident, your AWW is based on the 13 weeks immediately before the workplace injury.

If you have any odd situation regarding your wages, you may want to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer if there is a question about your AWW. You want to make sure that you are receiving the maximum benefits for lost wages after a workplace injury.

Maximum Benefits for Lost Wages in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Case

There are minimum and maximum adjustments to the amount a worker can receive for lost income after a work-related injury. The figures are based on a statewide average weekly wage. 

The AWW is adjusted each year. If you were injured at work on or after January 1, 2020, the maximum workers’ compensation benefit for lost wages is $1,081. If your AWW is between $810.76 and $1,621.50, your benefit is 66 2/3 percent of your AWW up to the maximum of $1,081.

However, if your AWW is between $600.56 and $810.75, your workers’ comp benefit is $540.50 per week. For anyone earning $600.55 or less, their benefit is 90 percent of their AWW.

On January 1, 2021, the figures will change. The Department of Labor & Industry generally provides the maximum and minimum adjusters on their website for the current year and the five previous years.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Permanent Disability 

If you cannot return to work because of a permanent total disability, you could potentially receive lost wage benefits for the rest of your life. However, if you are only partially disabled, you can collect permanent partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks.

If you are disfigured, you may be entitled to additional compensation for that specific loss. The amount of compensation is based on the specific loss or body part. The duration of your benefits also depends on the specific loss or body part. 

If you cannot work because of a work injury, you have the right to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer about your case. You can talk with a lawyer to learn about your legal rights and your options for maximizing the compensation you receive for a workers’ compensation claim.