How Are Lost Wage Benefits Calculated?
A workplace injury may leave unable to work, worrying how you will make ends meet. Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, you are entitled to lost wages if you miss work due to your injury, but knowing how much you are entitled to can be a tricky issue that is best addressed by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Read over the situations below for a general overview of how lost wage benefits are calculated. However, at The Law Office of Bryan S. Hawkins, we encourage all potential clients to call us for a free initial consultation and bring by their wage records to that meeting. We are happy to verify the amounts for free, and you have no obligation to use our legal services.
Basically, in order to calculate your lost wage benefits, you need to know what Georgia law considers your average earnings.
1: Calculate your average weekly wage.
First, you will need to request a copy of your wage records from your employer for the 13 weeks before the week of your injury. Look to see if you worked the majority of the 13 weeks preceding the date of the injury. If you only worked 11 of those weeks or missed time from work during those thirteen weeks, go to number two.
If you did work “substantially the whole” of the 13 weeks, add up your pre-tax weekly wages for those 13 weeks, and divide that number by 13. That is your average weekly wage. To determine how much your weekly benefit should be, or your “comp rate,” divide your average weekly wage by 3, and then multiply that number by 2. That amount should be how much you are paid each week for temporary total disability benefits (benefits paid when you are taken out of work by your doctor because of a work-related injury) under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, if your average weekly wage is $600, your weekly check should be $400.
NOTE: Currently, the cap on weekly benefits is $500. Also, if you are working reduced hours or at a lower rate of pay because you are on light-duty restrictions, your check would be two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wage and your actual weekly pay on light-duty. This is called temporary partial disability benefits.
2: Use the wages of a similarly-situated employee.
If you didn’t work substantially the whole of the 13 weeks preceding the date of accident, you must use the following to determine your average weekly wage and comp rate. NOTE: As discussed above, if you only worked 11 of the 13 weeks before the accident, or maybe 2 out of 5 days in 3 of the 13 weeks (examples only), your attorney can and should argue that you did not work enough in the weeks leading up to your accident to accurately provide a fair average weekly wage.
In this scenario, you or your attorney should request the wage records from your employer of similarly situated employees to determine what your average weekly wage is. If no similarly situated employee exists, then go on to step 3. If they do exist, the wages of that employee for the 13 weeks leading up to your date of injury are used the same way as described in Step 1. (You or your attorney needs to make sure the similar employee qualifies as “similar” -same level of experience, same schedule, same rate of pay, same number of years with the employer, etc.
3: Divide your salary into average, full-time weekly earnings.
If you did not work substantially the whole of the 13 weeks preceding the date of accident, and there are no similarly situated employees, then you are entitled to full-time pay to determine your average weekly wage and weekly benefits check. For example, if you worked at $11 per hour, your average weekly wage would be $440 ($11 x 40 hours a week). This would equate to a weekly TTD check in the amount of $293.34 (2/3 of your average weekly wage).