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How Does Worker’s Comp Pay for Lost Wages?

An injury or illness on the job could put you out of work for days, weeks, or months. One of the most compelling reasons to file a workers’ compensation claim in California is for lost wage benefits. In California, workers’ compensation will provide benefits to partially reimburse lost wages according to the specifics of the case, such as recovery time and level of disability. Understanding how workers’ comp may pay for your lost wages can help you plan for the future.

Temporary Disability (TD) Benefits

Many workplace accidents can cause the temporary inability to complete required work tasks, such as lifting boxes or operating heavy machinery. Temporary disability benefits can provide lost wage reimbursement for a set time while the worker recovers. An employee in California may qualify for temporary disability benefits if he or she cannot perform the usual duties of his or her job because of the injury or illness.

Temporary disability benefits reimburse two-thirds the employee’s weekly gross wages during recovery, up to a statewide cap. This cap changes every year. In 2019, workers cannot receive more than $1,252 per week. You must earn at least $27,126 per quarter prior to your claim to qualify for the maximum weekly benefit. The minimum weekly payment is $182. You will qualify if you have to miss at least three days of work. You can receive these benefits until you can return to work.

Permanent Disability (PD) Benefits

If your work-related injury or illness causes permanent disability and takes away the option of returning to your previous job, you may qualify for permanent disability workers’ comp benefits. Permanent disability pays the same amount as temporary disability, but lasts for the foreseeable future instead of a set period. You can qualify for two-thirds of your weekly gross wages potentially for the rest of your life, up to the same maximum amount as temporary benefits. The Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine who qualifies based on occupation, age, and severity of the disability.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits

Many injured employees cannot return to the same jobs or positions they held prior to the accident, but can instead perform the duties of a different employee. In these cases, the state may offer supplemental job displacement benefits. This type of compensation only applies if the employer cannot offer alternative or modified work for the injured person.

The employer has 60 days from the injured person’s medical evaluation and verification of permanent disability to offer alternative work. Otherwise, the employee will qualify for a $6,000 voucher to make up for the lost job. This benefit amount remains the same regardless of level of disability. The employee can use this money for additional education, certification, tests, equipment, or job training for another job.

Death Benefits

If you lost a loved one in a workplace accident, you and your family may be eligible to recover your loved one’s lost future earnings through workers’ compensation death benefits. Death benefits in California can help a spouse, child, or another dependent by paying for funeral/burial costs and providing additional compensation for other losses. A single dependent could receive up to $250,000, two dependents $290,000, or three or more dependents $320,000.

Maximize Your Lost Wage Recovery

A workers’ compensation attorney in California can review your case, help you negotiate with insurance companies, and fight for the best possible lost wage recovery on your behalf. Hiring a lawyer to handle your case can give you the freedom to focus on your physical recovery or spending time with loved ones. Your lawyer will make sure you receive the most available for your lost wages. A lawyer can also help you appeal a decision if the Division denies your workers’ compensation claim or offers less than your case is worth.