If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system is intended to provide coverage for your medical treatment when you are injured on the job as well as to provide wage replacement when you are unable to work as a result of your injury. The amount of benefits that you will receive if your claim is approved will depend on a number of factors.
Temporary Total Versus Temporary Partial
The first factor that will impact the amount of your workers’ compensation benefit check is whether or not you are totally or partially incapacitated. Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, you will be considered to be totally incapacitated if “your injury or illness leaves you unable to work, considering your age, training, and experience for five or more full or partial calendar days.” The days that you are unable to work do not have to be consecutive. Partial incapacity is defined by the Department of Industrial Accidents, or DIA, the agency that administers the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, as a situation where “you can still work but lose part of your earning capacity because of your injury or illness. This may include an injury forcing you to change jobs at a lower pay rate or to work fewer hours.”
If your claim is approved for either temporary total or temporary partial incapacity benefits, you will receive a weekly benefit check while you are being treated for your injuries.
Computing Your Weekly Benefit
If you are approved for temporary total incapacity benefits, your weekly benefit check will be 60 percent of your average weekly wage. Your average weekly wage is typically determined by taking the weekly wages you have earned and dividing them by the number of weeks you worked to come up with your average weekly wage. That figure is then multiplied by 60 percent to arrive at the amount of your weekly benefit. Although this is the general formula, there are some circumstances that make computing your weekly benefit amount more complicated. If, for example, you have not worked at the same job for very long or you worked over-time hours, then the computation of your benefit amount may be more complex. In addition, there is a maximum weekly benefit amount that any claimant can receive which is based on the State’s Average Weekly Wage, or SAWW, amount. This amount is set by the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment each year.
If you only qualify for temporary partial incapacity benefits, computing your weekly benefit amount is more complicated. The maximum amount you can receive for temporary partial incapacity benefits is 75 percent of what your weekly temporary total benefits would be. If, for example, your temporary total benefits amount would be $400, then the most you could possibly receive under temporary partial incapacity benefits would be $300 per week.
How Long Will I Receive Benefits?
The amount of time that you will remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits depends first on how long your incapacity lasts. You could receive temporary total benefits first and then be eligible for temporary partial benefits. Temporary total benefits are available for up to 156 weeks while temporary partial benefits are available for up to 260 weeks. Unless your incapacity lasts for longer than 21 days, the first five days of incapacity will not be eligible for benefits.
If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts, computing your average weekly wage properly is an important part of the benefit process. An error made by the DIA when computing this figure could cost you to lose benefits that you are entitled to as a result of your injury. In addition, determining whether or not you qualify for temporary total or partial incapacity benefits will have a significant impact on the amount of your weekly benefit check. Retaining the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney at the beginning of the claims process can help ensure that your benefits are computed accurately so that you receive the maximum amount of weekly benefits throughout your incapacity.
Contact the Massachusetts workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz& Associates, P.C. if you need assistance with filing a claim or appealing a denial by calling800-367-0871 or by using our online contact form.