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Is the Weekly Rate of Compensation Benefits Calculated by Your Employer’s Insurance Company Correct?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2018 | Worker's Compensation

A person injured on the job in Council Bluffs is focused on how to get better and get back to work. They may not be very willing or able to deal with workers compensation insurance carriers, especially when it comes to the details of their benefits. But one issue to watch for is how your weekly rate of compensation benefits are determined by the insurance company.

Benefits to Iowans injured on the job for lost pay are based on their individual weekly pay rate. This normally is slightly less than the person’s average gross earnings less their average payroll taxes. State statutes (§85.36 and §85.37) spell out how this rate is supposed to be calculated.

How is the Weekly Rate Calculated?

The calculation of the weekly rate starts with the injured worker’s earnings just prior to the injury and deciding the first thirteen weeks of “representative” earnings.

  • The average of these thirteen representative weeks is applied to the rate table of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner that covers the injury date.
  • The rate tables take the average gross weekly wage, then show the proper weekly rate whether the worker is married or not and how many exemptions the worker is entitled to claim.

The variables in this equation include,

  • Representative weeks: Your compensation may vary from pay check to pay check. If a week of earnings is low due to an absence, vacation or other reason the week shouldn’t be counted as one of the thirteen weeks to be considered. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner has discretion over which weeks would be considered when calculating the rate if they fairly represent the worker’s customary earnings.
  • Marital status and number of exemptions: The weekly rate will vary based on if the worker is married or single and the number of exemptions. A single worker will have a lower rate than one who is married and has children. A child can be considered an exemption for workers compensation if the child could be considered an exemption for tax purposes.
  • Not all types of compensation are included in the calculation: This includes fringe benefits, payment for expenses, unusual bonuses and overtime pay above the straight time rate.

What Happens if the Calculation is Wrong?

The insurance company may or may not get this right. They may try to push the limits of the law and exclude weeks of higher pay that should be part of the calculation or include lower paying weeks in order to lower the weekly rate and reduce their financial exposure on the claim. If the rate is improperly low you’re being denied benefits and the longer you’re unable to work the more money you’ll lose.

If you are injured on the job, contact our office so we can talk about your legal rights and how Iowa’s workers compensation system works, especially if the weekly benefit rate that’s being offered seem less than what you deserve.

Contacting a Lawyer

The Telpner Peterson Law Firm, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, represents employees who have suffered workplace injuries in Iowa or Nebraska. Be aware that a workers’ compensation insurer may deny, delay or undervalue your case for many reasons, including by miscalculating your weekly rate. Our principle workers compensation attorney, Walter Thomas, stands up for you so that you get the maximum benefits under law.

To discuss your case, learn the potential compensation from your claim, and learn the options to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, schedule a complimentary consultation with our Council Bluffs office. Simply call 712-309-3738 or contact Telpner Peterson Law Firm online.