Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Claims
Compensation Rate and Average Weekly Wage
How to calculate your weekly payment.
Your compensation rate is basically determined by taking your total earnings for the time period of one year prior to accident date and dividing it by 52 weeks. This calculation will determine your average weekly wage or AWW. Your compensation rate is then 66 2/3% of the AWW. If you did not work essentially the whole of the year prior to your date of accident, there are some other methods for calculating your AWW and corresponding compensation rate. It is important that you have all of your paystubs, W-2’s, and Tax Returns for the past few years prior to your injury. An accurate compensation rate is essential to making a claim and is often one of the most litigated issues with the Employer/Carrier.
The basic types compensation under LHWCA falls into four main categories: permanent total disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability or temporary partial disability. Each category is defined by the extent to which an employee can no longer perform their job responsibilities and for how long the injury will keep the employee from returning to their regular job responsibilities.
Permanent total means the employee is completely and totally disabled and will never be able to perform their job responsibilities again and they have no residual earning capacity, temporary total means the employee is temporarily unable to perform any of their job responsibilities, permanent partial means the employee will only be able to perform part of their job responsibilities for the remainder of their career, and temporary partial means the employee will temporarily be able to perform part of their job responsibilities.
All four categories will be determined by a physician and the physician will make their recommendation for the extent of the disability suffered by the employee. Permanent and temporary total disability compensation is two thirds of the employee’s weekly average pay; the maximum amount to be paid is determined every October 1 and applies through September 30 of the following year and is subject to a maximum adjustment of 5%. Permanent partial disability is based on the amount of use of that particular body part required by the employees position, in other words the wage earning capacity loss due to the disability suffered. For example, the loss of a foot is eligible for 205 weeks of compensation. Temporary partial disability is eligible for two thirds of the weekly salary earned before the injury occurred. In the unfortunate event that the injury causes death to the employee, death benefi ts can be paid to the widow, dependent children under the age of 18, and any other immediate family member (brother, sister, parent, grandparent) who is dependent upon the deceased. A widow is paid 50% of the weekly wage of the deceased for life or until remarried. If the widow remarries, they will receive a lump sum payment of two years wages. If the deceased has any children under the age of 18 then an additional 16 2/3% will be paid for all children combined. If there is no widow and only children then 50% of the weekly wage will be paid to a single child or in the event of more than one child under 18, 66 2/3% of the weekly wage will be paid to the surviving children. An exception can be fi led for any child under the age of 23 who is enrolled in secondary education courses. Compensation may continue indefi nitely for any child who is not of sound mind or judgment due to mental or physical disabilities of their own. When awarding death benefits, the average weekly wage of the deceased shall not be considered to have been less than the National Average Weekly Wage (NAWW) effective at the time of death. The total survivor payable benefits in death cases will be the lesser of either the average weekly wage of the deceased or 200% of the NAWW.
Depending on the date of the accident, there are minimum and maximum compensation rates that apply. Click here for up to date amounts.