I received a worker’s compensation award of 15% for a shoulder injury I sustained in 2006. I injured the opposite shoulder in 2010 and my case is ready to settle. If I am offered 15% for my 2010 claim will it be the same amount of money?

Worker’s compensation disability rates change from year to year. They are based on what is known as the “State Average Weekly Wage,” commonly known as “SAWW.”  To calculate a given year’s compensation rates the SAWW figure from two years previously is used. This amount varies. In 2006 the applicable SAWW (representing wages for 2004) was $920.88. This made 15% of partial permanent disability worth $16,560.00. In 2010 the applicable SAWW (from 2008) was $1,059.29.  15% of partial total was $19,080.00. Of course, these figures assume the injured worker earned a wage sufficient to entitle him or her to these rates. If the worker earned a low wage it is possible the above award figures would be lower.

Traditionally, the State Average Weekly Wage has gone up from year-to-year. However, from 2008 to 2009 the SAWW actually dropped by a small amount, resulting in a slightly lower compensation rate in 2011 than in 2010. This was a reflection of the economy.

Al Vitarelli is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, specializing in Workers’ Compensation Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Vitarelli.