All Massachusetts weekly workers’ compensation benefits are based off of the average weekly wage of the injured worker.
How Is Average Weekly Wage Figured?
The calculation of average weekly wage is always based upon the employee’s gross earnings. If the employee has worked a full year prior to the injury, one averages the full 52 weeks prior to the injury. These gross earnings include such things as bonuses, vacation time, overtime, and commissions. The value of fringe benefits, such as health insurance, are not added in to the earnings. Total earnings in the 52 week period are divided by 52 to get the average weekly wage. If an employee has worked less than 52 weeks, the number of weeks actually worked will be divided into the gross earnings. For workers who have worked only a very few weeks, the calculations for average wage may be based upon a fellow employee who had worked for the same employer doing the same work for a longer period of time. A list of the maximum weekly compensation rates over the past ten (10) years is found below.
|Injury On or After||Maximum Weekly Benefit|
What If I Work More Than One Job?
In cases where an employee has more than one job, his wages from both jobs can be included in the computation for workers’ compensation if both jobs are jobs covered by the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation system. This essentially means that both jobs must be ones that are for legitimate employers who are deducting taxes from the employee’s wages and reporting income to the government, and have a policy providing workers’ compensation coverage. This situation is called concurrent employment and can substantially increase weekly benefits to the injured employee.
Section 34/Temporary Total Disability Benefits
In Massachusetts, workers are entitled to weekly temporary total disability benefits if they are unable to perform any job. It should be noted that inability to do one’s former job is not necessarily enough. Total inability to perform work of any reasonable kind is required. In order to obtain benefits you must be disabled for at least six (6) calendar days. Note, we are talking about calendar days not work days. The six (6) days do not have to be consecutive. Benefits begin on the sixth day, but do not cover the first five (5) days of disability unless you are out longer than 21 days. For example, if you lose seven (7) days of work, you would only be paid for two (2) days under Section 34. If you were out 22 days, you would receive the full 22 days of benefits. An employee who loses less than six (6) days, would not receive weekly benefits, but would still be entitled to medical benefits. Weekly benefits are sixty percent of the employee’s “average weekly wage” of the employee’s average weekly wage). Weekly temporary total disability benefits can extend for up to three (3) years. The present maximum weekly rate for temporary total disability is $1,256.47, as of October 1, 2015; and it increases every October 1st based on the increase in the state wide average weekly wage. Some examples may be helpful: An employee injured on or after October 1, 2015, with an average weekly wage of $700.00, would receive temporary total disability in the amount of $420.00 a week. Another employee, injured on the same date, with an average weekly wage of $2,500.00 a week, would receive $1,256.47 per week, which is the maximum weekly benefit provided. He would not receive $1,500.00 per week because 60% of his average wage exceeds the maximum; therefore, the maximum benefit of $1,256.47 per week applies. The minimum compensation rate is 20% of the state wide average weekly wage in effect as of the date of the injury, except in the case of an employee whose average weekly earnings are less than this 20% figure. This employee will receive compensation equal to his or her average weekly wage.
Section 35/Partial Disability
Employees who are able to work, but cannot perform their full duties and cannot earn their previous wages are considered partially disabled. Currently, partial disability pays sixty percent of the difference of what the employee is able to earn after being injured as opposed to the pre-injury “average weekly wage.” The maximum weekly partial benefit cannot exceed seventy-five percent of the injured employee’s weekly total disability benefit. The maximum period for collecting partial disability is five (5) years. If, however the injured employee collected temporary total disability prior to collecting partial, or at some point after collecting partial, the combined maximum for both sections 34 for temporary total disability and 35 for partial disability, is seven (7) years. This can be extended in those rare cases where the injury causes a seventy-five percent loss of function to an eye, hand, leg, foot, or arm or a permanent life threatening physical condition, or a permanent disabling occupational disease. In these cases, partial disability of up to ten (10) years is available.