Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the maximum weekly benefit for work related injuries increased from the maximum rate of $843 in 2014 to the maximum rate of $855 in 2015. This weekly benefit rate is the maximum dollar amount an injured worker can receive if the worker is kept out of work by the authorized workers’ compensation doctor for more than seven days. The rate is calculated as 70% of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to the above mentioned maximum rate cap. The minimum weekly benefit will increase from $225 to $228. The minimum rate is the lowest amount of money an injured worker will be paid while he or she is out of work, under the care of the authorized doctor, after missing at least seven days of work. This money payable to the injured worker is tax free and is not declared as income on either State of New Jersey or Federal tax returns.
In cases involving permanent partial disability awards, the 2014 weekly benefits ranged from $225 to $843. The rates varied based on the nature and extent and type of partial disability. This will increase in the year 2015 from a low of $228 to a maximum rate of $855, respectively. Permanent total disability is 70% of wages, subject to a maximum of $855.00 a week as described above.
What has not changed in 2015 is that permanent partial disability awards in New Jersey remain tax free and are not declared as income on either New Jersey or Federal tax returns. What is permanent partial disability in New Jersey? It is defined in the case of Perez v. Pantasote and in N.J.S.A 34:15-36 as follows: Permanent partial disability requires proof of disability by demonstrable objective medical evidence of loss of function of the body and proof that the injured worker has suffered a lessening to a material degree of his or her working ability, or that the disability is serious enough to effect other aspects of life outside of work. You are still entitled to a permanent partial disability award even if you return to your same job after your injury, as long as you can prove loss of function and its effect on your job or home life. To obtain the maximum award possible it is recommended that you seek the services of an attorney who can file a formal workers’ compensation claim petition with the New Jersey Department of Labor. If you have any questions about your right to a permanent partial disability award, please call the workers’ compensation lawyers at Stark & Stark for a free consultation.