Worker’s Compensation 101: How Much Will You Get Paid and How Long Will It Last?

Worker’s compensation is a system of benefits that provides medical care, wage replacement, and other assistance to workers suffering work-related injuries or illnesses in Pennsylvania. Workers’ compensation is essential for injured workers because it helps them recover from their injuries, maintain their income, and protect their rights.

To receive workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania, you must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as:

  • You must be an employee of a covered employer
  • You must have suffered an injury or illness that arose out of and in the course of your employment
  • You must report your injury or illness to your employer within 120 days of the occurrence or discovery
  • You must follow the medical treatment guidelines and cooperate with the insurance company

The purpose of this blog is to explain the main types of worker’s compensation benefits that you may be entitled to in Pennsylvania, how much they are worth, and how long they last.

Replacement of Lost Wages

One of the main benefits of workers’ compensation is the replacement of lost wages due to your work-related injury or illness. The amount of wage replacement depends on your average weekly wage (AWW), which is calculated based on your earnings in the year before your injury. The wage replacement rate is usually 66 2/3% of your AWW, subject to a minimum and a maximum amount.

For example, if your AWW is $900, your wage replacement rate is $600 per week. If your AWW is $1,200, your wage replacement rate is $800 per week. However, if your AWW is $2,000, your wage replacement rate is capped at the maximum amount, which is $1,130 per week for 2023.

The duration of wage replacement depends on the status of your disability, which can be either temporary or permanent and either total or partial.

 

Partial Disability Benefits

Partial disability benefits are paid when you are able to return to work but with reduced earnings or hours due to your work-related injury or illness. For example, if you used to work full-time but now you can only work part-time, or if you used to earn $20 per hour but now you can only earn $15 per hour, you may be eligible for partial disability benefits.

Partial disability benefits are calculated as 66 2/3% of the difference between your pre-injury AWW and your post-injury earnings. For example, if your AWW was $600 and now you earn $300 per week, your partial disability benefit is $200 per week ($600 $300 = $300 x 66 2/3% = $200).

Partial disability benefits can last up to 500 weeks (about 9.6 years) from the date of injury. However, they may end sooner if you fully recover from your injury, if you return to work at or above your pre-injury wage level, or if you reach the maximum medical improvement (MMI) as determined by an impairment rating evaluation (IRE).

Specific Loss Benefits

Specific loss benefits are paid when you suffer a permanent loss of use or amputation of a body part due to your work-related injury or illness. For example, if you lose an eye, a hand, a foot, or a finger, you may be entitled to specific loss benefits.

Specific loss benefits are paid at the same rate as total disability benefits (66 2/3% of your AWW), regardless of whether you are able to work or not. However, specific loss benefits are paid for a fixed number of weeks based on a schedule established by law. For example, if you lose an eye, you will receive specific loss benefits for 275 weeks. If you lose a hand, you will receive specific loss benefits for 335 weeks.

In addition to specific loss benefits, you may also receive healing period benefits for up to 20 weeks after the date of injury or amputation. Healing period benefits are also paid at the same rate as total disability benefits.

Total Disability Benefits

Total disability benefits are paid when you are unable to return to any type of work due to your work-related injury or illness. For example, if you suffer a severe spinal cord injury that leaves you paralyzed, you may be eligible for total disability benefits.

Total disability benefits are paid at the same rate as wage replacement benefits (66 2/3% of your AWW), subject to the minimum and maximum amounts. Total disability benefits can last indefinitely as long as you remain totally disabled and unable to work. However, they may be subject to periodic reviews and modifications by the insurance company or the worker’s compensation judge.

Total disability benefits may also be affected by an IRE, which is a medical examination that measures your degree of impairment due to your work-related injury or illness. If your impairment rating is less than 35%, you may be converted from total disability to partial disability status, which means that your benefits will be limited to 500 weeks. If your impairment rating is 35% or more, you may remain on total disability status, which means that your benefits will continue indefinitely.

Death Benefits

Death benefits are paid to the surviving spouse, children, or dependents of a worker who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness. Death benefits are paid at the same rate as total disability benefits (66 2/3% of the deceased worker’s AWW), subject to the minimum and maximum amounts. Death benefits can last for the lifetime of the surviving spouse unless he or she remarries, or for the duration of dependency for the surviving children or dependents.

In addition to death benefits, the insurance company or the employer must also pay up to $7,000 for the funeral and burial expenses of the deceased worker.

Workers’ compensation is a vital source of support and protection for injured workers in Pennsylvania. Workers compensation provides various benefits, such as:

  1. Replacement of lost wages
  2. Partial disability benefits
  3. Specific loss benefits
  4. Total disability benefits
  5. Death benefits

However, workers’ compensation is also a complex and challenging system that requires timely reporting, proper documentation, and legal representation. If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness in Pennsylvania, be sure to:

  • Report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible
  • Seek medical treatment from an approved provider
  • Consult a lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation law

At RG Injury Law, we have the experience and expertise to help you navigate the worker’s compensation system and secure the benefits that you deserve. We will fight for your rights and interests against the insurance company and the employer. We will handle your case with compassion and professionalism.

If you need legal assistance with your worker’s compensation claim, contact us today for a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you on the best course of action. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing unless we win your case.

Don’t wait, call Rankin & Gregory  now at (717) 656-5000 to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

 

RG Injury Law Resource Center

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