When an injured worker misses work due to their injury, they are entitled to payment of benefits. During a period of healing for an injury, these benefits are commonly referred to as temporary total disability benefits (TTD). If the injured worker is entitled to benefits for a permanent injury, these benefits are referred to as permanent partial disability benefits (PPD). Whether the benefit is TTD or PPD, they should be paid weekly and on time. How the weekly rate for an injured Iowa worker is calculated is governed by Iowa Code §85.36. This Iowa Code section lists 12 different ways weekly benefits are calculated, depending on how the injured worker was being compensated before their injury. For instance, the Code section provides for different ways to calculate a weekly benefit depending on if the injured worker was paid on a weekly basis; a bi-weekly basis; semi-monthly; monthly; salary; daily or hourly; part-time; and other ways. No matter how the calculation is performed, the benefits are to be paid every week. The most common calculation for determining the weekly benefit for an injured worker is by dividing by 13 the earnings, including shift differential pay but not overtime or premium pay, the injured worker earned in the last completed period of 13 consecutive calendar weeks immediately preceding the injury. A week that does not fairly reflect the injured worker’s customary earnings shall be replaced by the closest previous week with earnings that fairly represent the injured worker’s customary earnings. Overtime hours are included but calculated at a straight rate.
Typically, the rate calculation will be determined by the workers’ compensation insurance company’s adjuster. The accuracy of the calculation is dependent on what wage information is provided by the employer to the adjuster, and this is usually 13 weeks of wage information. It is not unusual that the weekly rate calculation is not accurate. This is extremely important because the weekly rate is one of the most important factors determining how an injured worker will be compensated. Without the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, there is almost no way an injured worker can determine if the weekly rate was accurately calculated. Even if you could get ahold of the calculations from the insurance adjuster, it would be nearly impossible to challenge the figures unless you know what to look for.
At Wertz & Dake we find typically there are weeks used by the insurance company that do not reflect the injured worker’s customary earnings. This entitles us to throw out that week and replace it with a week of better earnings. These recalculations can result in a significant increase in the benefits owed to an injured worker. In order to make the new calculation, we have to obtain additional weeks of earnings beyond the 13. Establishing the proper weekly rate of benefits to be paid is one of the first priorities at Wertz & Dake.