Increase in State Average Weekly Wage Will Bump Up Calif. Workers' Comp Benefits in 2010

Increase in State Average Weekly Wage Will Bump Up Calif. Workers' Comp Benefits in 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor has released new data showing California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) rose from $956.20 to $984.83 in the 12 months ending March 31, 2009 – an increase of just under 3 percent – which will push up minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) rates for 2010 work injuries, as well as other workers’ compensation benefits that have been tied to changes in the SAWW.

California’s TTD maximum rate for job injuries that occur in 2009 is $958.01 per week, but with the latest increase in the SAWW, that rate should rise to $986.69 per week for claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2010. The minimum weekly TTD rate also is subject to an annual adjustment based on increases in the SAWW, so the minimum rate ($143.70 for 2009 injury claims) should jump to $148 for 2010 work injury claims.

As of next January, other workers’ compensation benefits also will be bumped up by the recent increase in the SAWW, including temporary disability paid two years or more after the injury, life pension and Permanent Total Disability payments for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2003, and installment payments on death claims. Claims administrators are encouraged to review any change in benefit rates with legal counsel to confirm that adjustments are appropriate and accurate. For reference, California’s SAWW for the 12 months preceding March 31, 2008 is posted at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum08/DataSum_2008_1.pdf and the SAWW for the 12 months March 31, 2007 is at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum09/DataSum_2009_1.pdf.  A CWCI Bulletin with more details is available to Institute members and subscribers at www.cwci.org.