The amount of the weekly check you get for worker’s compensation should be about the same as what you were taking home while you were working. But it’s kind of complicated to figure out. You first have to figure out your “Average Weekly Wage,” and then you calculate your “Weekly Compensation Rate.” Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all below.
Average Weekly Wage (AWW)
“Average Weekly Wage” is the average of your gross wages (before money is deducted for taxes and things like health insurance) per week over the six months before your date of injury. Here’s how to figure it out.
If you are paid hourly for the same amount of hours every week, just multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you work. For example, if you work 38 hours a week and make $19/hr, your average weekly gross wage is $722 (38 x 19 = 722).
However, if you work a different amount of hours every week, then you will have to get your paystubs for the six months prior to the date of injury. (You can do this by asking for copies from your employer. Or you can ask the workers comp insurance company to send you the “Form 25”, which is a form that the employer fills out for the insurance company. If the insurance company won’t send you the Form 25, call the Vermont Department of Labor at 802-828-2286.) You’ll need to add up the total gross wages (before deductions like taxes and health insurance) over the six months (should be 26 weeks), and divide by 26 to get your Average Weekly Wage.
If in any week during the six-month period you got bonuses or extras like tuition reimbursement or free perks, those amounts will need to be added in as well. And for any week where you work less than half than you normally would, you don’t count those weeks. So for example, if you normally work 38 hours a week, but during one week you only worked 18 hours, you would not include that week.
After you get your Average Weekly Wage amount, you have to do some other calculations to get your “Weekly Compensation Rate.”
Weekly Compensation Rate (WCR)
This one is even more complicated than the Average Weekly Wage. So before I give you the explanation, here is my summary:
I know, complicated, huh? Also, the summary above only applies if your date of injury is between 6/30/20 and 7/1/21. It will be slightly different if your date of injury is outside that time period. (Call me if this is your situation and I’ll get you the correct figures.) If you want to understand how this actually works, here goes.
First, multiply your Average Weekly Wage (AWW) by 2/3. So if your AWW is $722 (from the example above), this would equal $481.
Except, if your AWW is more than $1,565, because the Weekly Comp Rate is capped at $1,403. You can’t get more than $1,403 per week as a Weekly Comp Rate.
But also except if your AWW is than $728, because the minimum rate is $468. So you can’t get a Weekly Comp Rate of less than $468 . . .
. . . unless your AWW is less than $520, then your Weekly Comp Rate is your AWW multiplied times 90%.
I know, crazy complicated, right? But there’s more.
If you are a parent, you get an extra $10 per week per child under age 21 (even if they’re not living with you).
Cost of Living Adjustment
Also, every July 1st the weekly amount increases by a “Cost of Living Adjustment” (COLA), but only if you’ve been receiving weekly checks for more than six months prior to July 1.
So, for example, if you started receiving weekly checks on January 10, 2019, there would be no COLA on July 1, 2019, but there would be on July 1, 2020. The amount of the COLA is different every year, but is usually between 2-3%.