Suffering an injury on the job can be a traumatic and stressful experience. In the blink of an eye, your world is turned upside down, especially if you suffer a debilitating injury that leaves you permanently or partially disabled. PA workers compensation rates provide a level of security to injured employees seeking financial stability during a difficult period.
After an injury in the workplace, you may confront thousands of dollars of medical expenses, long-term physical therapy and surgical procedures, the prospect of losing your job or being physically unable to return to your prior position, and an inability to help your family out at home.
If you find yourself in this situation, one of the first steps you should take is notifying your employer of the incident that caused the injury. Shortly after that, consult with an experienced workers compensation attorney in Pennsylvania to begin the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Overview of PA Workers Compensation Rates
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation rates change every year. The amount you may be eligible to receive depends, in many instances, on the type and severity of the workplace injury you suffered. Generally, Pennsylvania workers compensation rates provide two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a statutorily-defined maximum amount.
PA workers comp rates are subject to modification every year to reflect a national average income. For example, in 2016, the maximum weekly compensation rate for employees was $978. In 2017, the weekly compensation rate increased to a maximum of $995 per week.
As of June 30, 2018, the maximum compensation payable to an injured employee is $1,049.00 per week. This maximum amount applies to injuries that occurred on, or after, January 1, 2019.
This statutory limit generally applies to workers who earn between $786.76 and $1,573.50 per week. The maximum translates to roughly 66 2/3 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, which is $1,049.00 per week, as previously mentioned.
If you earn between $582.78 per week and $786.75 per week, your weekly wage, when calculating your PA workers compensation rate, will be around $524.50 per week.
An employee making an average of $582.77 per week or less will receive 90 percent of their weekly salary. For example, if you make $500 per week, you will take home around $450 per week in PA workman’s comp benefits.
You can expect to receive your workers’ comp checks at roughly the same intervals as when you receive your paycheck directly from your employer.
Interplay Between Pennsylvania Workers Comp Rates and Your Eligible Benefits
Your weekly worker’s compensation benefits help ensure that you receive compensation for at least a portion of the wages you lost from being out of work. However, your rate may be affected based on what type of benefits you are seeking.
Many people are surprised to discover that there are an array of benefits you can pursue through the PA workers comp system. For example, there are temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and specific loss benefits.
Total Temporary Disability Benefits
Total temporary disability benefits are available to employees who miss at least one week (i.e., seven days) of work because of their workplace injury.
If you qualify, you can receive total temporary disability benefits for close to two years (specifically, 104 weeks). Once you reach this limit, a physician will need to evaluate you to assess your disability. If the physician determines you remain predominantly disabled, then you can continue to receive these benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
In addition to total temporary disability benefits, you may be able to pursue permanent partial disability benefits. These benefits are typically available to a worker who suffered an injury but remains physically able to work. This may mean that it may not be the same work performed before the workplace injury.
An employee may receive partial disability benefits for up to five hundred weeks, depending on an assessment of their disability.
Specific Loss Benefits
Along with total temporary disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits, you may be eligible for benefits related to a particular loss.
For example, if you suffered an injury that led to the amputation of your arm or leg, or if you suffer severe hearing or vision loss, then PA workers compensation rates consider these specific losses and provide specific benefits.
Does the Workers Compensation Pay Scale Include Reimbursement for Medical Bills and Other Expenses?
Your employer pays medical expenses related to your workplace injury. Other covered expenses include necessary renovations to your home or automobile stemming from your workplace injury.
You can also seek reimbursement of your travel expenses if you need to travel beyond your local area to receive treatment. Insurance carriers will need to offer transportation in the event that you cannot get to your medical examination.
How Do Workers Compensation Rates in PA Address the Death of an Employee?
If you lost a loved one in a tragic workplace accident, it is possible to pursue benefits through workers comp for your family.
For example, the family of a deceased worker can file a claim through the PA workers compensation system and receive up to three thousand dollars to help cover funeral expenses.
Do Workers Compensation Payment Rates Include Financial Restitution for Pain and Suffering?
Unfortunately, they do not cover financial restitution for pain and suffering.
Under the PA workers comp system, pain and suffering are not part of the calculation for workers compensation benefit rates.
Does Unused Vacation Pay or Sick Leave Pay Affect Workmans Comp Rates?
Unused vacation or sick leave does not affect worker’s comp rates in Pennsylvania. If you have earned vacation or sick time during your employment tenure, you can take your vacation or sick time without having to worry about missing workers comp benefits.
Courts determined vacation time and sick time are benefits owed to an employee based upon their time in service to the employer.
Additionally, if you use your vacation or sick leave because your workers comp claim is denied, but a worker’s comp judge in PA grants your claim later on, you can claim benefits for the period where you used your vacation or sick leave.
Returning to Work with a Different Employer Might Affect Your Workmans Comp Benefits
In some circumstances, an employee who receives worker’s comp benefits from an employer will eventually return to work, but with a different employer.
If you find yourself in this situation and you now earn less money in your new position, you may be able to pursue a payment of partial disability benefits at the rate of two-thirds the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and the amount you are earning at your new job.
For example, let us say you were making an average weekly wage of $400 per week at your former job. You now make an average weekly wage of $200 per week at your new job. In this scenario, you may be able to claim a partial disability payment of $133.20 per week (here’s the math on that: $400 – $200= $200 x 2/3= $133.20).
You are only able to pursue this partial disability if your reduced weekly earnings relate to the work injury that is preventing you from earning your average weekly wage before the injury.
Do Unemployment Benefits Impact PA Workers Comp Rates?
Yes. Under PA law, you receive both workers comp benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.
However, the amount you receive through Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system counts against your workers’ comp benefits. This means there is a reduction of your benefits based upon the number of unemployment benefits awarded.
How To File a Claim for PA Workers Comp
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, a worker’s comp claim must be submitted in writing and either mailed or faxed to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Processing a worker’s comp claim typically takes between seven and ten days.
A judge with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation makes decisions regarding workers comp claims which may result in you receiving a denial notice for your worker’s comp claim.
If you disagree with the judge’s determination, you may file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. If you cannot achieve a resolution with the Appeals Board, you can escalate the matter with a filing in the Commonwealth Court.
The Statute of Limitations for Workmans Comp Claims
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, you only have a finite period to file a workers comp claim. You must submit a claim within three years of the date of your workplace injury.
This is the “statute of limitations,” and the Pennsylvania General Assembly codified it. If you do not file your petition within three years, your claim will be in jeopardy. There is a good chance you will be ineligible and prohibited from collecting any worker’s comp benefits for your injuries. Do not make this mistake. Take action today by contacting a knowledgeable PA worker’s comp benefits attorney at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo to learn more about the PA workers compensation rates and your eligibility for benefits.