Average Pay, Ability to Work Affect Workers’ Comp Benefits
The Georgia workers’ compensation system provides benefits to workers who are injured in the scope of employment or become ill as a result of their job. Only an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can advise you about the specific benefits you may be entitled to receive. However, an overview of wage replacement benefits in general may be helpful in the meantime.
An injured worker may receive temporary total or temporary partial wage replacement benefits. These benefits begin on the seventh day of missed work due to the injury or illness. If you ultimately stay out of work for more than 21 days, the initial seven-day waiting period becomes compensable. So if you are injured May 1 and do not report to work the following day, you can begin receiving wage replacement benefits on May 9. If you are still unable to work on May 23, you will be entitled to compensation for May 2-9.
If you are unable to do any type of work at all because of your injury or illness, you will receive total disability wage replacement benefits. If you are able to do some type of work but not the type of work you did prior to the accident or illness, you may receive partial disability wage replacement benefits.
The amount of wage replacement benefits you receive will depend on how much you earned prior to the injury or illness. Benefits are calculated using your average weekly wage, or AWW. Your AWW is based on your wages for the 13 weeks prior to the date your claim was filed. The wages for those 13 weeks are added together and then divided by 13 to arrive at your AWW. You are then entitled to two-thirds of your AWW for temporary total disability benefits.
There is a maximum wage replacement rate that changes each year. For 2013, the maximum was $525 per week. To illustrate, imagine that you earned a total of $6,000 for the 13-week period prior to your accident or injury. Your AWW would be $461.54. Your weekly wage replacement benefits would then be $309.23.
If you are entitled only to temporary partial benefits because you are able to perform some type of work, calculating your benefits becomes more difficult. Your wage replacement benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your post- and pre-injury wages. In the above example, let’s assume that you now earn just $230 per week as a result of the injury or accident. The difference between what you earned before the accident and after is $231.54. Two-thirds of that figure is $155.13, which would be the amount of your wage replacement benefit.
Because calculating your wage replacement benefits can be complicated, it is best to consult with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.