Slight Increase in California Average Wage Means a Minor Bump in 2014 Workers’ Comp Benefits

Slight Increase in California Average Wage Means a Minor Bump in 2014 Workers’ Comp Benefits

California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) rose less than 1 percent from $1,059.38 to $1,067.25 in the 12 months ending March 31, 2013, which the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) reports will boost temporary total disability (TTD) rates for 2014 work injury claims, as well as other workers’ compensation benefits that are tied to changes in the SAWW.

California’s TTD maximum rate for 2013 job injuries is $1066.72 per week, so with the marginal increase in the SAWW over the last year, CWCI calculates that the maximum will rise to $1,074.64 per week for claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2014. State law also links the minimum weekly TTD rate to SAWW increases, so the CWCI calculates that the minimum rate will edge up a fraction from the current $160 per week to $161.19 for claims with 2014 injury dates. The Institute has confirmed both the minimum and maximum TTD rates for 2014 injury claims with the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Beginning next January, other workers’ compensation benefits also will be bumped up by the recent increase in the SAWW, including TTD paid 2 years or more after injury, life pension and Permanent Total Disability payments for injuries on or after January 1, 2003, and installment payments on death claims. Underpayment of benefits results in penalties, so CWCI encourages claims administrators to review changes in benefit rates with legal counsel to assure that adjustments are appropriate and accurate. For reference, California’s SAWW for the year ending March 31, 2012 is at http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum12/DataSum_2012_1.pdf  and the SAWW for the year ending March 31, 2013 is at https://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum13/DataSum_2013_1.pdf    A CWCI Bulletin with more details is available to Institute members and subscribers at www.cwci.org.