How Are Workers' Compensation Income Benefits Calculated?

When you are taken completely off work due to an on-the job injury, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) from Georgia workers' compensation. AWW is calculated based on your earnings for the 13 weeks prior to your injury. For example, if you are paid $750 per week by your employer, your weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefit is $500.

However, determining the amount of your weekly check can quickly become complicated. To ensure that you are receiving all of the money you deserve, you may need the help of an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. At the law firm of Hilley & Frieder, we provide a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call 404-233-6200 today to speak with one of our lawyers. From our law office in Atlanta, we serve clients throughout Georgia.

How Different Scenarios Can Affect Your Benefits

Here are some examples of just how complicated figuring your average weekly wage (AWW) can be:

  • Scenario one — Let's say you have worked in the same occupation for the same or another employer for the 13 weeks immediately preceding your injury. Your AWW is your total income for that period divided by 13.
  • Scenario two — What if you worked only 11 of the past 13 weeks for your employer? You are entitled to have your wage calculated based on that of a similar employee who works for your employer. But questions then can arise about whether the tasks performed by the employee chosen by the insurance company are really similar to your job and if your workers' comp disability benefit should be based on the other employee.
  • Scenario three — In this case, use the full-time weekly wage, typically 40 hours at your hourly pay, plus employer-provided benefits.

These are just three examples. If you were working two similar jobs and now cannot work either job due to your injury on one, you should be paid weekly disability benefits based on your earnings from both the jobs, but this is not something that the insurance company will offer to pay.

An experienced workers' compensation attorney will make sure you are paid based on all your lost earnings.

Restricted Duty Wage Benefits

If you are not taken off work, but rather placed on restricted duty, you are entitled to weekly benefits if you return to work, but earn less due to your injury.

For instance, if you had worked overtime prior to your injury, but your employer has a policy of no overtime for light duty workers, then you are entitled to two-thirds of your earnings loss. For example, if prior to your injury you were earning $180 weekly overtime, but when you returned to work light duty, you were not permitted to work overtime, then you would be paid $120 per week temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits: (two-thirds of $180). The insurance company will not explore your overtime earnings loss, but an experienced workers' compensation lawyer can make sure you are paid benefits based on all the earnings that you have lost.

Injured workers who have returned to work with restrictions (light duty work) and who are earning less than they made before their accidents are entitled to partial disability benefits. The amount of these payments is based on the difference between a worker's average weekly wage and weekly earnings after his or her return to work on restricted duty.

If you were injured, these weekly payments will be two-thirds of the difference between what you made before you were injured and what you make now after being injured, to a maximum of $383. These benefits last for up to 350 weeks, so thousands of dollars are at stake.

While the concept of the "average weekly wage" may seem simple, it can present complex issues. To ensure that you are receiving the partial disability benefits you are entitled to, you should consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

We Understand the Georgia Work Comp System

The attorneys at Hilley & Frieder have helped injured Georgia workers recover millions of dollars in workers' compensation benefits. Our law firm understands the complexities of the work comp system in our state and how to help our clients get all that they are entitled to. Don't automatically assume that you will be treated fairly by the system. Without a strong advocate on your side, you may be denied benefits you deserve.

For a free consultation about your workers' compensation benefits, call 404-233-6200 or complete our contact form.

Ronald Hilley was the contributing attorney to this content.