When an employee is injured on the job and forced to miss work, it can cause a number of hardships for the worker and his family. In addition to the physical pain and health prognosis, workers are most often concerned about how the injury will affect them and their families financially. In Iowa, workers’ compensation benefits include wage replacement to help ease that burden. Wage replacement benefits are payable on a weekly basis to injured workers and their families, and they can help prevent additional and unnecessary stress during an already difficult time.
Wage Replacement Benefits Under the Workers’ Compensation System
Wage replacement compensation is meant to assist with income loss due to missed work and any extra expenses associated with the injury outside of medical care. While ideally the injured worker would receive an amount equal to his paycheck, this is not typically the case. Wage replacement is determined by a formula and does not match the typical income of the worker before the injury. So, what can an injured worker expect to receive from these benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits fall under the jurisdiction of each state in the U.S. Every state determines its own specific guidelines and rules that operate the system. The process for obtaining benefits and the amount of compensation offered can vary greatly from state to state. This is true for wage replacement, as well. Fortunately for Iowa workers, our state does allow the highest rate of compensation in the country. The average maximum weekly benefit in Iowa last year was $1,543, nearly twice the national average for state maximums.
Determining Your Weekly Wage Benefit in Iowa
It is important to note, however, that not every Iowa worker will receive a weekly benefit in that amount. It is the maximum amount an injured worker can receive based on the state formula and his typical wage.
Employees are entitled to a percentage of their spendable weekly earnings depending on each unique circumstance. Spendable weekly earnings are defined as the amount that remains after required taxes and withholding are taken. These amounts are based largely on the type of disability benefits required by the injured employee, and the rates follow:
- Temporary total disability – 80 percent of weekly spendable earnings
- Temporary partial disability – 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the injured worker’s average gross weekly earnings at the time of injury and his current earnings at a lesser paying job due to the injury
- Permanent partial disability – 80 percent of weekly spendable earnings
- Permanent total disability – 80 percent of weekly spendable earnings
- Healing period – 80 percent of weekly spendable earnings
- Death benefits – 80 percent of weekly spendable earnings
Each type of disability compensation is subject to the weekly maximum, ranging from 184 percent to 200 percent of the statewide weekly average wage.
Calculating Your Weekly Wage Replacement Benefit After an Iowa Work Injury
There are mathematical formulas used to address a wide variety of employment situations. To determine an injured worker’s specific wage replacement benefit, the state calculates the rate based on a number of factors, including:
- Employment status (full time or part time)
- Rate of compensation
- Frequency of pay (bi-weekly, monthly, etc.)
- Type of employment (certain jobs are subject to a flat rate of compensation)
- Type of disability benefit (permanent partial, temporary total)
These formulas can be found in the state ratebook on the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission website.
Additional Compensation for Iowa Work Injuries
In addition to weekly wage replacement, it is possible to receive other compensation, depending on the nature of the injury. Workers who experience the loss of a limb, for example, may be eligible for compensation for a scheduled loss. It is also possible to obtain compensation for the cost of travel to medical appointments related to the injury, burial expenses after the death of a worker, and more.
An experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney can help injured workers and their families examine their unique situation to determine what compensation may be attainable. If you or someone you love has suffered a work injury in Iowa, call Pothitakis Law Firm to learn more about your rights and legal options. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help you ensure you obtain the medical care and compensation you deserve.