How Workers' Compensation Benefits Are Calculated

By Peter J. Gough, Esq.

If you are injured at work, two benefits are available to you under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act — a weekly disability check and payment of medical bills. The amount of your weekly disability check is generally based on your earnings for the 12 months immediately preceding your injury. Your employer sends your pay stubs to its insurance company, and the insurance company (or other company hired by your employer) does the calculations. Surprisingly, they make many errors in the calculation of your gross weekly wage, known as the average weekly wage (AWW).

Why is this important? Well, in short, the higher the calculation of your AWW, the higher your weekly disability check will be. Even if the computation is only off by $10 per week, it could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars of lost disability income while you are off work.

The AWW figure must include all of the following amounts received during the 12 months before you were hurt. If the insurance company misses any of these or puts them in the wrong quarter, it will throw off your AWW:

  • Wages
  • Vacation pay
  • Tips
  • Overtime
  • Holiday pay
  • Profit-sharing
  • Bonuses
  • Incentive pay
  • Sickness and accident benefits

The AWW can also be miscalculated if the insurance company misses one or more of the following factors, if they occurred during the 12 months before your injury. Can you answer "yes" to any of these questions?

Were you working for two or more employers at the same time?

Were you working for your time of injury employer less than 13 weeks before you were hurt?

Were you laid off?

Were you on sickness and accident benefits?

Were you injured and on workers' compensation for another injury?

You can see that the computation of your AWW is not simply an hourly rate multiplied by 40 hours a week.

The workers' compensation attorneys at Quatrini Rafferty know which figures need to be included and how and where to include them, and which formula fits your case. At Quatrini Rafferty, our goal is always to get you the highest possible weekly benefit that reflects an accurate and realistic measure of your earning capacity at the time you were hurt. If you answered yes to any of the above questions and would like us to recheck your AWW to make sure you are getting your maximum benefit, please call us today at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or 888-534-6016, or email a Pennsylvania workers' comp lawyer.

For more information on Pennsylvania workers' compensation, please visit our Workers' Comp Information Center or our Workers' Compensation Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information on Social Security, please visit our expansive Social Security Information Center or our Social Security Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information on Pennsylvania personal injury, please visit our expansive Personal Injury Information Center.

Related Pennsylvania workers' comp articles:

I Can't Return To My Job... What Now?

Layoffs After a Work Injury

Hearing Loss May Be a Work Injury

Workers' Compensation Alert

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