Monday, March 29, 2010
Average Weekly Wage Desk Aid
The Division of Workers Compensation has what it calls a desk aid to help compute a claimant's average weekly wage. You can view it here. The subject of average weekly wage is an ongoing matter in Colorado. Even now the Supreme Court is to review a case soon (soon means this year).
The importance of the issue cannot be disregarded. Your wage calculations can play a very big role in your compensation benefits. A claimant wants it to be as high as possible and Respondents want it to be as low as possible. The reason is that it can increase your temporary and permanent benefits by a significant amount. As an example let us say you are making $10 an hour and get injured on the job. Does that mean the average wage is $400 for a 40 hour week? Not necessarily. Overtime does count. Having a second job may also count. Getting tips can also be counted (if timely reported to the IRS). Even health benefits from your job may be counted in many circumstances. The Desk Aid for wage calculations is actually more of a guide because a Judge has a great deal of discretion in calculating your average weekly wage. Do not blindly accept the figure provided to you as it may not be the only way to calculate benefits. Many insurers just take the last quarter's earnings (13 weeks) prior to the work injury and this may be way off. A judge may decide there is a different way to calculate it. Back to the example...if the $10 an hour employee worked overtime, or had tips or a second job or health coverage or even if there is another reasonable factor to consider the wage can go up. Even a figure just a few dollars higher can mean thousands more in temporary and permanent benefits. Always do your own calculations and your attorney should review the calculations considering the current caselaw and statutory law. This issue is a subject that is very current and often controversial so do pay attention to it. Look at my last post of March 20, 2010 where it is brought up in a proposed piece of legislation. See also this post where the wage calculation approach is to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.