The New Jersey Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau recently announced that the maximum weekly rate that will be paid to workers who get injured in the year 2014 will increase. The weekly rate paid under the workers compensation statute is 70% of wages, up to a maximum that changes each year. The maximum a worker can be paid while out of work and under a doctor’s care will go up to $843.00 per work next year. The current maximum rate for 2013 is $826.00 per week. There is also a minimum rate that is paid to injured workers while they are out of work under a workers’ compensation doctor’s care. The minimum will be $225 per week in 2014. If 70% of a worker’s average weekly wage is less than $225 per week, they will still be paid this minimum figure for temporary disability purposes. The above figure represents a 3.6% increase in the average workers’ compensation rate for the year 2014, and is based on increases in average weekly wages in New Jersey. I have been a practicing attorney for 23 years. In that period of time the workers’ compensation weekly rates have increase every year except in the year 2011. In 2011 the rate actually went down $2 per week. Fortunately this decrease in rate lasted only one year.
This new increase in weekly rate only applies to new injuries that take place in the year 2014. Those people already injured and out of work from prior years are not entitled to the increase. The workers’ compensation temporary disability weekly rate is always dictated by the year of the injury, and not subject to a yearly increase or a cost of living increase. This differs from Social Security Disability benefits where there is a cost of living increase in most years. The same is not true for workers’ compensation benefits, even if a person is found to be totally disabled. Unfortunately the injured worker is always paid at the rate in effect in the year of their injury. This certainly presents a real problem for those workers who are injured at a young age and become totally disabled at a time when they are not making a lot of money.
If you have any questions about the rate you are entitled to under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute please give us a call.