Will my weekly wage loss checks increase under workers comp?
Michigan workers comp lawyer explains a little known provision that allows a person to ask for a special increase in the amount of wage loss benefits paid.
The biggest misconception about workers comp is that our clients are lazy and do not want to work. Nothing could be further from the truth! The vast majority of our clients simply want to recover from injury and get back to work. The reason for this is no mystery; workers comp will never pay a person what they could earn in regular employment.
Workers comp in Michigan only pays 80% of the after-tax average weekly wage for a person who is totally disabled. This works out to be roughly 60% of that individual’s gross weekly wage. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and this reduction of income is devastating.
If a person has a wage earning capacity, meaning they can perform a lesser paying job, weekly benefits can be reduced even more. It does not matter whether wages are actually earned for the reduction to kick in. Some people have found their weekly benefits cut to $7.00 even though they can’t find another job. Try to support a family on that type of income!
The amount of wage loss benefits is also limited to a maximum of $775.00 per week for 2012. This represents 90% of the state-wide average weekly wage. The idea is that no person on workers comp should earn more than 90% of what everyone else makes. This sounds reasonable but many higher wage earners will disagree.
How to increase wage loss benefits paid under workers comp
In general, the amount of wage loss benefits paid is fixed at the time of injury. Even if a job is eliminated or a company goes bankrupt, workers comp continues to pay. This is a double edged sword because while benefits continue, there is no increase for inflation. You are essentially stuck in a time warp where everything gets more expensive but your earnings do not rise.
However, there is an important exception that could provide a disabled worker with some relief. If an individual is being paid at a rate less than 50% of the state-wide average weekly wage for the year of injury, he or she may be entitled to an increase in benefits after 2 years of continuous disability.
The disabled worker must petition a magistrate and present evidence that by virtue of age, education, training, and experience, his or her earnings would have increased. A magistrate may then order a weekly rate adjustment up to 50% of the state-wide average weekly wage for the year of injury. This is a one-time adjustment.
Here is how the math works. If you were injured in 2010 and your wage loss benefits are lower than $414.36 (50% of state-wide average weekly wage for that year), you can ask for an increase in weekly benefits.
Call an experienced workers comp lawyer before taking action
Insurance companies fight dirty. We recommend that you contact an experienced workers comp lawyer before seeking an increase in weekly benefits. You could be opening yourself up to a full range of legal issues without even knowing it.
A good workers comp lawyer may even find that you have been underpaid all along. Insurance companies make mistakes in calculating benefits and they are never in your favor.
To speak with an experienced workers comp lawyer in Michigan, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation. We never charge a fee to review a case.
– Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. Hes been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.
– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by uhuru1701.