DWC: NVM TTD, LOL

Sooo… remember when I posted about the DWC announcing the TTD rates for 2022? Yeah, well, they just issued a notice withdrawing that Newsline stating the Department of Labor information was preliminary and incomplete.

What does this mean for 2022 rates? I don’t know for sure, but I have some thoughts on the matter. Over the last few years the Department of Labor has been sluggish to update their statistics. At some point each fall the DWC is naturally faced with the unenviable dilemma of providing certainty to all stakeholders in the workers’ compensation system regarding benefit rates while still being bound by the requirements of L.C. Section 4453 to await updates from the Department of Labor. No matter your political bent or theories on the underlying causes, there is no denying the last 18 months have definitely seen a decline in the economy. The increase in the state average weekly wage of 2020 over 2019 was to be expected. Similarly, a decrease from the halcyon days of January through March of 2020 to a similar period in 2021 compared is hardly unexpected.

My guess is even though the Department of Labor data for the first quarter of 2021 is “preliminary and incomplete,” it is exceedingly unlikely any amount of additional data or massaging of these figures is going to result in an increase in the temporary disability rates for 2022.

Photo courtesy of Chris Marquardt

NO NONSENSE

Per today’s DWC Newsline, the maximum and minimum rates for total temporary disability in 2022 will remain unchanged from 2021 rates. This also means the rates for death benefits, life pension, and permanent total disability won’t be changing either.

Since these benefit rate changes are derived from the year over year increases in California’s state average weekly wage, it’s little wonder the state average weekly wage went down, instead of up for the first time in many years. Astute readers might wonder why the temporary disability and associated benefit rates aren’t going down next year – since the state average weekly wage did. The way these statutes were drafted, only the yearly increases in state average weekly wage are used for adjusting the benefit rates.

Don’t tell Lexis, but this is going to make my work updating the charts for the Labor Code book slightly easier.

Photo courtesy of Paul Sableman