Workers' compensation provides medical benefits as well as partial wage replacement benefits for those who have fallen victim to a work-related injury or illness. Medical benefits should cover the costs of all necessary medical care needed to treat the work-related injury or illness. But what about the wage replacement benefits you will need to pay day-to-day living expenses while you are recovering?
Workers' comp temporary disability payments based on two-thirds of average weekly wage
In South Carolina, when you miss seven consecutive days of work because of an occupational illness or injury, on the eighth day you become eligible for temporary total disability benefits, or TTD. TTD will provide you with wage replacement at a rate of two thirds of your average weekly wage over the 52 weeks prior, not counting the quarter in which your injury occurred.
For example, imagine that your weekly pay rate was $750. If you made exactly $750 dollars each week in the four calendar quarters prior to your injury, you TTD wage replacement benefits would be two-thirds of that amount, or $500 per week.
However, suppose you worked a substantial amount of overtime in the months preceding your injury, or otherwise received compensation beyond the normal amount. This would increase your average weekly pay rate, and would mean you would be entitled to additional TTD.
Many employers incorrectly estimate a worker's average weekly pay rate; often, they are unaware that overtime and other extra compensation has to be included. It is very important to ensure that this figure is accurate, as it will determine all monetary aspects of your workers' comp claim.
For higher earners, there is a maximum compensation rate. The maximum compensation rate is set by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission based on data provided by the state Department of Employment and Workforce. The maximum amount for 2013 is equal to two-thirds of the average weekly wage for all individuals in South Carolina from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.
In 2013, the maximum compensation rate is set at $743.72 a week, up from $725.47 in 2012. The increase is good news for injured workers. For injuries suffered after January 1, any South Carolina worker whose average weekly wage in 2012 was $1115.58 or above should receive the maximum TTD rate.
Talk to a South Carolina workers' comp attorney about undervalued, denied claims
TTD can help you through a tough time until you are able to return to work. If your workplace injury or illness has long term consequences, you may also receive compensation for permanent impairment. The amount you receive for permanent impairment is based on your average weekly pay rate.
In order to receive the most compensation in every aspect of your claim, it is critically important to ensure that your weekly pay rate is not unfairly deflated when you are applying for workers' compensation. A South Carolina workers' compensation attorney can help you if you fear that your workers' comp claim has been undervalued, or if your claim has been denied completely.