How does the BWC determine how much money I will get paid
When an injured worker is out of work under an Ohio workers’ compensation claim, the worker is entitled to receive weekly compensation benefits to compensate for the lost wages the worker is experiencing by being unable to work. To figure out how much a worker will receive each week, we need to go through a few steps.
Setting the Wages
First, the injured workers’ wages need to be set. Once the wages are set, the injured worker can receive compensation based on those rates.
There are two rates that are used when a worker is paid through a workers’ compensation claim. These rates are called the Full Weekly Wage (FWW) and the Average Weekly Week (AWW).
To calculate the FWW, an injured worker has two options. The FWW can be calculated by adding up the 6 weeks of gross pay prior to the date of injury, and dividing that by 6. The alternative is to set the FWW based on the workers gross wages for the 7 days prior to the injury, less any overtime pay. The FWW can be set at the higher of the two.
The FWW is only used to pay an injured worker’s lost wages for the first 12 weeks the worker is out of work. However, the actual amount of money the worker will receive is not the FWW. The amount the injured worker will receive is 72% of the FWW, called the Full Weekly Wage Rate (FWWR).
After 12 weeks of compensation, an injured worker will start being paid compensation based on the Average Weekly Wage (AWW), rather than the FWW. The AWW is calculated by adding up the gross earnings for the 52 weeks prior to the date of injury and dividing that by the number of weeks worked. The worker will receive 66 2/3% of the AWW as compensation which is referred to as the Average Weekly Wage Rate (AWWR).
Minimum and Maximum Rates
Once you determine the FWWR and AWWR, there is one final step to determine how much the worker will get paid. Every year, the Ohio BWC issues a “Compensation Rates” chart that lists the minimum and maximum amount of money a worker can receive through the claim, depending on the particular benefit being paid. Click on the link to access the Compensation Chart to determine if compensation rates are affected by the minimums and maximums for the year of the injury.
With the Compensation Rates chart in hand, follow these rules:
-If the FWW and/or AWW is below the minimum rate for the year of the injury, the injured worker will get paid at the FWW and/or AWW.
-If the FWW and/or AWW is above the minimum rate for the year of the injury, but the FWWR and/or AWWR is below the minimum rate for the year, the worker will be paid at the minimum rate for the year, rather than the FWWR or AWWR.
-If the FWWR and/or AWWR is above the maximum rate for the year, the worker will get paid at the maximum rate.
-If the FWWR and/or AWWR is not below the minimum rate or above the maximum rate, the injured worker will be paid at the FWWR and/or AWWR.
A word of caution. Setting the FWW and AWW in a workers’ compensation claim is one of the most important things to focus on when setting up a claim. Any payments that are made through the claim to the injured worker are based on the FWW and AWW, and these rates will never increase after they are set. It is important that these wages are set as high as possible to make sure the worker receives the most amount of money the worker is entitled to collect.
Caveat. There are situations where the typical calculation of the FWW or AWW produces an unfair result for the worker. For example, if a worker was unemployed for over a year, then returns to work and gets injured on the very first day, the worker will not have the necessary wages to set the FWW or AWW. Likewise, if a worker had only been in the workforce for 6 months when the injury occurred, the injured worker would not have 52 weeks of wages to use for the AWW.
These situations require a thoughtful approach to submitting a Wage Statement and an experienced and qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help figure out the best approach.
If you have any questions on setting wages in an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
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