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Understanding Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for Washington State Workers’ Compensation

2024 COLA for Washington

Inflation, economic indicators, and other factors affect the cost of living in Washington State, which in turn impacts workers’ compensation benefits. Time loss and pension benefits are designed to provide financial support for injured workers, but rising prices can reduce their value. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) implements a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in July of most years to address this. The COLA for 2024 is effective on July 1 and will run through June 30, 2025.

As a result of the COLA increase, your time loss and pension benefits should increase. If there is no increase in your benefits, it is usually cause for concern. You should consult with a Seattle workers’ compensation attorney who can explain the laws and take legal action to protect your rights.

Here are four key points about COLA under Washington State workers’ comp laws:

1. COLA for 2024

Washington state officials re-evaluate benefit amounts annually using the state average wage as a benchmark. The COLA for 2024 is 5.9 percent, based on the state average wage increasing from $84,167 to $89,138.

2. Workers’ Compensation Benefits Affected by the 2024 COLA

You can expect changes to your benefits beginning July 1, 2024, although it may take some time to see the adjustment in your time loss or pension payment. The adjustments include:

  • Time Loss: The amount is based on a percentage of your wage at the time of injury, varying from 60 percent for a single worker to 75 percent for a married worker with five children. 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 $89,180.
  • L&I Pension Benefits: These benefits are for injured workers who cannot return to work. COLA will affect the amounts for L&I pensions, including benefits for family members after a fatal workplace accident.
  • Loss of Earning Power (LEP): When you can work with limitations, LEP compensation covers the difference in earnings if the loss is greater than 5 percent. COLA may affect the amount you receive for LEP benefits.

3. Who Qualifies for the 2024 COLA

Those receiving the benefits described above are eligible. There is nothing you need to do to take advantage of COLA. However, if you were injured recently and are just starting to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the COLA increase does not apply in the first year following an industrial injury.

4. Disputes Over COLA

You should see a COLA increase in your workers’ comp benefits for time loss, L&I pension, or LEP compensation within the month of July. The Department will backdate the increase to July 1, 2024. If you suspect an error in your COLA increase, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to ensure you receive accurate workers’ compensation benefits, including those linked to COLA adjustments.

Set Up a Free Consultation with a Seattle Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Understanding the Cost of Living Adjustment is important, but working with experienced legal counsel is crucial if you have concerns about your workers’ compensation benefits. Please call The Walthew Law Firm or contact us online to schedule a no-cost case review. Our Washington workers’ compensation attorneys serve injured workers in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, and Kitsap County from our Seattle and Everett offices.

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