We ask our workers’ compensation clients to send us their W2s and paystubs for a specific reason. This documentation is needed to calculate wage rates in a claim. The compensation paid in a claim depends on an injured worker’s earnings six weeks prior to as well as one year prior to the work accident. Our goal is to get the highest calculation possible.
The first twelve weeks of temporary total disability are paid at 72% of the average earnings for the six weeks prior to the work accident. This mirrors an injured worker’s take home pay. This is rate is known as the Full Weekly Wage (FWW). This calculation is quite simple and there is no consideration for special circumstances during the six week period used for the calculation.
All other compensation is based on the Average Weekly Wage (AWW). This rate is calculated by taking an injured worker’s earnings one year prior to the work accident and dividing by 52 weeks. However, this calculation can be modified if there are special circumstances.
Under Ohio law, the Industrial Commission has the discretion to consider “special circumstances” in the AWW calculation. Examples of “special circumstances” are: high school students working part time after school, time off to care for a terminally ill family member, a recent college graduate just entering the work force in a chose profession. Investment income and retirement benefits are not considered in the AWW calculation. While they may represent income, they are not wages.
Our office may contact you for your work history. We need as much information as you can give us to determine whether we can request the Industrial Commission to set the AWW at the highest rate possible due to “special circumstances.” Record keeping is important, too. The more information we have, the better we can assess whether your AWW can be adjusted to accurately reflect the compensation you may be entitled to in your claim.