California is dedicated to workers’ rights and dignity. The state saw an increase of over 5% in the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) in the year ending March 2022. Due to the improvement in wages, the California temporary disability rates will be increased. The minimum TTD rate will increase from $230.95 to $242.86 and the maximum TTD rate will increase from $1,539.71 to $1,619.15 per week.
Even if you don’t qualify for the highest payout, you will still benefit since the minimum payments will also increase by nearly $12 for claims filed after January 1, 2023. With these exciting changes coming in the next year, let’s examine the current maximum workers’ compensation payment in California.
How Workers’ Comp Works in California
In California, workers’ compensation insurance coverage must be provided through all employers for all their workers. When you are injured at work, this state-run program will pay you in two ways:
- Disability benefits: This includes partial wages for the time you can’t work.
- Medical benefits: This pays for any medical treatment required for your injury.
The insurance covers treatment by specific physicians who monitor and report your recovery status. When your doctor decides you’ve reached your Maximum Medical improvement (MMI), the insurance company will determine if you are temporarily or permanently disabled. This will form the basis of your payments going forward.
You can initiate and settle your claim on your own, but there are a lot of regulations and hurdles to consider. The insurance company, like any business, is primarily interested in getting you back to work while paying the least amount they can. It’s crucial to have guidance from an attorney experienced in workers compensation law, so you don’t make any mistakes.
Temporary Disability Benefit Maximum Payments
Workers’ comp insurance will pay all of your medical benefits for any treatments or complications from your on-the-job injury. You are also eligible for temporary disability benefits, which provide partial wages while you can’t work. They are calculated at two-thirds of what your average weekly pay was prior to your accident.
You can draw these temporary disability benefits until one of the following events happens:
- The doctor determines you are ready to resume work.
- You can earn at least as much as the maximum temporary disability benefits while on light or modified duty.
- You achieve MMI, and the doctor states your condition will not improve anymore.
- You reach the legal limit of 104 weeks for the payments.
The current minimum payment for temporary disability benefits for 2022 is $230.95, and the current maximum is $1539.71. These benefits will be paid as long as you are unable to work. If you return to work part-time or on light duty, you may earn less than before your injury. However, you are still able to receive temporary partial disability payments. This is figured at two-thirds of your lost earnings, which is meant to supplement your missing wages.
MMI and Permanent Disability Ratings
After reaching MMI, you may become eligible for permanent disability benefits. Whether you are and for how much depends on the rating issued by your doctor. Your Permanent Disability (PD) rating will range from 1%-100% and is based on several factors. Your physician will consider the type of work you do, your age, and your level of impairment to calculate the PD.
The rating determines how much your benefit payment will be and is either partial or total. The maximum amounts available for PD in 2022 are as follows:
- Between 1% and 70%: Payments are a maximum of $290 per week.
- Between 70% and 99%: Payments are just over $300 per week. At this level, you can receive a “life pension,” which begins when you exhaust the limit for weekly payments.
- 100% permanent disability: If you can’t work in any capacity, you’re eligible for permanent total disability benefits for the rest of your life, at two-thirds of your wage before the accident.
As you can see, although the legal regulations are quite clear, it can be confusing to determine exactly how much you might qualify for. Many of the decisions are out of your hands, but there are important factors you can control with the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
California’s Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit
As mentioned above, California is committed to assisting injured workers, even when they cannot return to their previous jobs. The state offers supplemental job displacement benefits to those who have either a permanent partial disability or whose employer can’t give them work within their limitations.
Other states implement vocational rehabilitation, or job re-training, to help employees, but California issues a voucher worth up to $6000. Receiving a lump-sum payout allows workers to seek their best fit to educate themselves in a new field. They can fund their tuition, training program fees, and materials or tools. They can even purchase computer equipment or job services to help them find and retain a new position.
Additional Considerations for Workers Comp Payments in California
Workers’ compensation is meant to ease the way for you when you are disabled from a work-related injury. It lets you pay bills, take care of your family, and pay for your medical expenses. You can rely on this coverage instead of your private insurance, and the payments you receive are tax-free.
While the insurance company is making a determination on your claim (usually 90 days or less), they must pay for your medical care up to $10,000. This prevents you from paying out-of-pocket for initial treatment until your claim is decided. Payments will continue until you return to work, although you are eligible for up to 104 weeks of benefits (intermittent or concurrent) over a five-year period.
For some injuries or illnesses, you could have this limit waived and receive payments for the rest of your life. Negotiating this and other complexities of a claim can be very confusing. To ensure you receive the maximum workers’ compensation payments available to you in California, you should contact a skilled attorney. They can do the hard work while you focus on recovering and returning to work.