The U.S. Department of Labor has released new data showing California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) edged down from $984.83 to $979.90 in the 12 months ending March 31, 2010 – a decline of about 0.5 percent. As a result, there will be no change in minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) and permanent total disability (PTD) rates for 2011 work injuries, or in several other workers’ compensation benefits that are tied to increases in the SAWW.
Under California law, minimum and maximum TTD and PTD rates are subject to annual changes, effective January 1 of each year, based on the percentage increase in the SAWW. After increasing steadily in recent years, the maximum TTD/PTD rate for 2010 job injuries is now $986.69 per week, and the minimum is $148 per week. But, with the decline in the SAWW last year, those rates will not need to be adjusted for claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2011.
The 2009-2010 decline in the SAWW also means annual cost of living adjustments to life pension and PTD payments on existing claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2003 will not apply next January, and the maximum rate for death benefit installment payments, which are paid in the same manner and amount as TTD, will remain unchanged. Claims administrators are encouraged to review the latest SAWW figures with legal counsel to confirm that benefit payments are appropriate and accurate. For reference, California’s SAWW for the 12 months preceding March 31, 2009 is posted at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum09/DataSum_2009_1.pdf and the SAWW for the 12 months ending March 31, 2010 is at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum10/DataSum_2010_1.pdf. A CWCI Bulletin with more details is available to Institute members and subscribers at www.cwci.org.