Dec
18
2009
1

Permanent Total Disability Benefits – deja vu all over again

Double dip done right

Double dip done right

Some commentators have suggested that the recent Duncan v. WCAB (X.S.) case creates a “double dip” for injured workers entitled to permanent total disability benefits. [1]  While I would take issue with much of that commentary, I would agree that permanent total disability benefits are affected by changes in the state average weekly wage twice under Duncan v. WCAB (X.S.).  Of the four benefits in California workers’ compensation system that are affected by changes in the SAWW, only permanent total disability benefits are affected twice.

It took the patient guidance of a very smart friend to help me to understand how this works:

  • When determining the proper starting rate for a permanent total disability case, you must first turn to Cal. Labor Code § 4453(a)(10).  This statute dictates that the limits (as in the statutory minimum and statutory maximum limits) are to be increased by the increase in the state average weekly wage (or SAWW).
  • However, according to Cal. Labor Code § 4659(c) as interpreted by Duncan v. WCAB (X.S.), the benefit rates themselves are then increased by the increase in the state average weekly wage (or SAWW).

Is it “double dipping” to have both the upper/lower limits and benefit rates increased by the SAWW?

Perhaps, but that’s what the two statutes say and what the Court of Appeals has decided.

  1. Photo courtey of alex012 []
Dec
17
2009
0

What benefits are affected by the SAWW?

Getting a handle on the SAWW

Getting a handle on the SAWW

Four benefits in California workers’ compensation are affected by changes in the state average weekly wage (or SAWW).[1]

  1. Temporary total disability benefits
    • The maximum and minimum benefit rates can be affected by the SAWW.
    • “Commencing on January 1, 2007, and each January 1 thereafter, the limits specified in this paragraph shall be increased by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the state average weekly wage as compared to the prior year.”  Cal. Labor Code § 4453(a)(10).
  2. Life pension benefits
    • The statutory life pension rates are now increased by the SAWW as directed by the recent Duncan v. WCAB (X.S.) case.
    • “For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2003, an employee who becomes entitled to receive a life pension or total permanent disability indemnity as set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall have that payment increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the “state average weekly wage” as compared to the prior year.”  Cal. Labor Code § 4659(c).
  3. Permanent total disability benefits
    • First, the minimum and maximum limits for permanent total disability benefits are increased, then the benefit rates themselves are increased.
    • “Commencing on January 1, 2007, and each January 1 thereafter, the limits specified in this paragraph shall be increased by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the state average weekly wage as compared to the prior year.”  Cal. Labor Code § 4453(a)(10).
    • “For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2003, an employee who becomes entitled to receive a life pension or total permanent disability indemnity as set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall have that payment increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the “state average weekly wage” as compared to the prior year.”  Cal. Labor Code § 4659(c).
  4. Death benefits
    • “A death benefit in all cases shall be paid in installments in the same manner and amounts as temporary total disability indemnity would have to be made to the employee, unless the appeals board otherwise orders.” Cal. Labor Code § 4702(b).

Did I just describe two increases to the permanent total disability benefit rate?  Huh, so I did.

Tune in tomorrow for more on Duncan v. WCAB, COLA’s, and SAWW increases!

  1. Photo courtesy of Sean Venn []
May
13
2009
2

PDRater.com calculators for your phone!

This phone will not run PDRater calculators, but yours might!

This phone will not run PDRater calculators, but yours might!

I recently discovered that installing the Opera Mini web browser on my “smartphone” has allowed me to run this website’s workers’ compensation calculators from my phone.[1]

Since launching this website I’ve given a lot of thought to support for cell phones.  There just are not many phones that can run these calculators.[2] The glaring and notable exception is the iPhone.

Amusingly, one of this website’s users has asked for an “iPhone app” version of this site.  Seriously, you’ve got one of the few phones that can use this site and that’s not good enough for you?  (Thanks Chris!)

This is huge.  It means:

  • I can blog from the Board[3]
  • More importantly, no more bulky money charts or rating manuals at the Board!
  1. Photo courtesy of storm gal []
  2. It would be more correct to say there are not many phones that support javascript and AJAX well enough to interact with this website in a meaningful fashion. []
  3. Probably a lot more interesting for me than it is for you… []
Mar
28
2009
2

New Ogilvie DFEC Rebuttal Calculator feature!

Getting an upgrade!

Getting an upgrade!

Late last week a user asked for a new feature.[1]  He wanted to be able to perform the Ogilvie DFEC rebuttal calculation and have the results e-mailed to him.[2] Well, I built it![3]

To e-mail yourself a calculation, perform the calculation as normal.  When the website returns your calculation, it will say “E-mail Me!”  Just click that button and it will send an e-mail to the address you used to register for this website.

However, here’s the cool part:  I’ve installed this new e-mail system into every calculator! [4] No more having to copy and paste!  Just click one button and your calculation will show up in your inbox![5]

Although I intend this to be a paid-subscription-only feature, I am going to leave it open for all users while I get some feedback.  So, what do you think?  Please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail!

  1. Thanks Dennis! []
  2. Photo courtesy of Vernhart []
  3. Why, what did you do with your Saturday morning? []
  4. I haven’t installed it in some of the EAMS lookup functions []
  5. If you filled in the boxes for Applicant, WCAB #, and File #, it will include this information in your e-mail as well.  This is only for your convenience and not a requirement. []
Oct
17
2008
0

Website Tweaks

Changing themes for a WordPress website is incredibly easy.  However, sometimes there can be slight problems in the transition.  I had heavily edited and customized the prior theme’s code so that it would be better suited to this website.[1]

Fixing things

Fixing things

Changing the website’s theme has involved a few small tweaks[2] :

  • For about four days the Articles section was merged with the Blog section.  This has been fixed.
  • I’ve found a really great plugin that allows me to insert footnotes into blog posts.[3]  My previous attempts at inserting footnotes manually were either time consuming or incredibly clumsy. [4]
  • I’ve made minor alterations to the current theme – background colors, menu ordering, etc.
  • Some people were separating their WCAB “legacy” number to ADJ number searches by semi-colons, rather than commas.  I believe there’s really no sense in fighting users. [5]  If a slightly different method makes sense to users, go with it.  I’ve adjusted the WCAB “legacy” number to ADJ number search function so that you can separate by semi-colons or commas.[6]
  • In printing out some Average Weekly Wage calculations, I discovered to my dismay that this website looked terrible when you tried to print it out.  Worse yet, the website header, sidebar, and other navigation information took up nearly a page.  This meant that a printout of a calculation might span two or more pages.  I’ve since fixed this using some particularly cool CSS.[7]
  1. Click this link see what the prior theme looked like. []
  2. Photo courtesy of CharlesThompson []
  3. Cool, no? []
  4. A special thanks to Mr. Simon Elvery for writing this great footnote plugin. []
  5. Unlike a certain “web-based” electronic adjudication management system… []
  6. Or both! []
  7. Well, my definition of cool, anyhow. []

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