June 9, 2016
CWCI Notes California Workers' Comp Benefit Increases For 2017
California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) rose just over 3.9 percent from $1,120.67 to $1,164.51 in the year ending March 31, 2016, which the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) reports will boost temporary total disability (TTD) and permanent total disability (PTD) rates for 2017 work injury claims, and other workers’ comp benefits that are tied to changes in the SAWW.
California’s current TTD/PTD maximum rate is $1,128.43 per week. CWCI calculates that the latest increase in the SAWW means that the maximum will rise to $1,172.57 per week for claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2017. State law also links minimum weekly TTD/PTD rates to SAWW increases, so the Institute notes those minimum rates will rise from the current $169.26 per week to $175.88 for claims with 2017 injury dates. CWCI has confirmed the new TTD/PTD rates for 2017 injury claims with the state Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Beginning next January, other workers’ compensation benefits also will be bumped up by the recent increase in the SAWW, including TTD paid two years or more after injury, life pension and Permanent Total Disability payments for injuries on or after January 1, 2003, and installment payments on death claims. Underpayment of benefits results in penalties, so CWCI encourages claims administrators to review changes in benefit rates with legal counsel to assure that adjustments are appropriate and accurate. For reference, California’s SAWW for the year ending 3/31/15 is posted at http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum15/DataSum_2015_1.pdf and the SAWW for the year ending 3/31/16 is at workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum16/DataSum_2016_1.pdf. A CWCI Bulletin with more details is available to Institute members and subscribers at www.cwci.org.