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 []
Dec
06
2009
1

Duncan (SIF) v. WCAB (X.S.) – Life Pension, SAWW, COLA, and a partridge in a pear tree

It looks like someone took a SAWW to that COLA

It looks like someone took a SAWW to that COLA!!!

You’re probably just here to download the latest workers’ compensation case about the Cost of Living Adjustment and State Average Weekly Wage increases. [1][2] I’m not going to hold you in suspense – here’s the download link:

John Duncan (Subsequent Injuries Benefit Trust Fund) v. WCAB (X.S.), (W.C.A.B. No. ADJ1510738 / SJO0251902) Writ of Review 11/25/2009

Obviously, you need to read the entire decision for yourself.  Here’s my oversimplification of the case:

Whenever the injured worker is due life pension payments for injuries on or after 1/1/2003, you calculate those benefits, whenever they are due, by increasing them according to the yearly increases in the state average weekly wage starting on 1/1/2004.

If some of this seems familiar, its because this is the same case as XYZZXSJO2 which came out back in February 2009.   I had suggested back in February that the effect of the COLA increases on life pension payments today would be to increase them some 44% or so.

Still having trouble understanding the impact of this case?  Well, you could try my XYZZXSJO2 calculator to tell you what the life pension rate should be during a given year.  (Remember, this just tells you the rate – it is not a commutation calculator.  These are still in the works).

What are your thoughts on Duncan v. WCAB?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/79874304@N00/386160373/
  1. Photo courtesy of Sister72 []
  2. I refuse to apologize for that pun. []
Feb
25
2009
2

XYZZXSJO2 – COLA and SAWW Increase Starts After the Date of Injury

XYZZXSJO2 - The motion picture!

XYZZXSJO2 - The motion picture!

Last week while Steve was at the Sacramento WCAB he heard about a recent case that held the COLA / SAWW adjustments and increases are calculated based upon the first January 1 following the date of injury. [1][2]

This case involving SIF (the subsequent injuries fund) is from the San Jose WCAB.  The name of the case is “XYZZXSJO2 v. Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund, ADJ 1510738, SJO 0251902”.  The name of the Applicant was anonymized to protect their identity.  [3][4]

Download a copy of XYZZXSJO2 now!

Thus far the conventional wisdom has been that the COLA/SAWW increases are calculated starting with the first January 1 after life pension gets paid out.  This is a tremendous change in the COLA/SAWW calculation of life pension.

Assuming a 1/1/2003 injury at exactly 70% permanent partial disability, there would be 426.5 weeks of permanent disability paid after the permanent and stationary date before the life pension gets paid out.  This equates to 8.2 years from the permanent and stationary date that has, thus far, not been taken into account with life pension calculations to date.  To put this in perspective, if someone had an injury on 1/1/2003 and became P&S on that same date[5] , the traditional method of calculating the life pension with COLA / SAWW increase would be too low by approximately 44%.

At the moment I’m finalizing a COLA / SAWW life pension calculator to determine what the future life pension rates are assuming a COLA / SAWW increase of 4.7% per year.  If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester for this COLA / SAWW calculator for life pension increases, please drop me a line and ask for access.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a citation for the 4.7% COLA / SAWW increase, but I believe it to be the offiical average used by the DEU[6] to calculate commutations of COLA / SAWW increases and adjustments.  If you have an official citation or document from the DEU, please drop me a line so I can include that citation here!

  1. COLA = cost of living adjustment. []
  2. SAWW = state average weekly wage. []
  3. I hope to have a scan of this decision for you soon! []
  4. David DePaolo of WorkCompCentral.com has graciously allowed me permission to offer you a copy of XYZZXSJO2 for download!  Thanks David! []
  5. Not likely. []
  6. Disaiblity Evaluation Unit. []

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