Inflation, economic indicators, and other factors affect the cost of living in Washington State. These factors also impact workers’ compensation benefits. Time loss and pension benefits are intended to provide financial support for injured workers. Rising prices reduce the value of your benefits. To help alleviate this problem, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) implements a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in July of most years. The workers’ compensation cost of living adjustment for 2023 became effective on July 1 and will run through June 30, 2024.
As a result of the COLA increase, your time loss and pension benefits should increase. There is typically cause for concern if there is no increase in your benefits. You should consult with a Seattle workers’ compensation attorney who can explain the laws and take legal action as necessary to protect your rights.
There are four points you should be aware of about COLA under Washington State workers’ comp laws.
1. COLA for 2023: Washington state officials are required to re-evaluate benefit amounts annually using the state average wage as a measurement. The COLA for 2023 is 2.01 percent. The basis for the increase amount is that the state average wage increased from $82,508 to $84,167.
2. Workers’ Comp Benefits Affected by the 2023 COLA: You can expect changes to your benefits beginning July 1, 2023, although it may take a short period of time to see the adjustment in your time loss or pension payment. The adjustments include:
● Time Loss: If you receive benefits for time-loss compensation, the amount is based upon a percentage of your wage at the time of injury. The percentage varies from 60 percent for a single worker to 75 percent for a married worker with five children at the time of injury. When the COLA increases, there will be a corresponding increase in your time loss rate. The time loss rate is capped at 120 percent of the state average wage. Starting July 1, the maximum monthly amount for time loss is $8,416.70.
● L&I Pension Benefits: There are benefits for injured workers who cannot return to work, and you may be familiar with the term permanent total disability. COLA will affect the amounts for L&I pensions, including family members who receive benefits after a fatal workplace accident.
● Loss of Earning Power (LEP): When your medical condition still allows you to work, though, with limitations, you receive LEP compensation for the difference in earnings. The loss must be greater than 5 percent to be eligible. In some cases, the COLA will affect the amount you receive for LEP benefits.
3. Who Qualifies for Cost of Living 2023: Those receiving the benefits described above are eligible, though there is nothing you need to do to take advantage of COLA. However, you will not see changes if you were injured recently and are just starting to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The COLA increase does not apply the first year following an industrial injury.
4. Disputes Over COLA: As mentioned, you should see a COLA increase in your workers’ comp benefits for time loss, L&I pension, or LEP compensation within the next month if you have not already received the increase. The Department will pay the increase back to July 1, 2023. If you believe there is an error in your COLA increase, it is important to reach out to an attorney. You are entitled to proper workers’ comp benefits, including amounts tied to COLA.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Seattle Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
This information about the Cost of Living adjustment may be useful, but it is critical to work with experienced legal counsel if you have concerns about your workers’ comp benefits. For personalized details about COLA, please call The Walthew Law Firm or contact us online to schedule a no-cost case review. Our Washington workers’ comp attorneys serve injured workers in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, and Pierce County from our offices in Seattle and Everett, WA.