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The U.S. Department of Labor has issued new data showing California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) edged down 0.48 percent from $1,650 to $1,642 in the 12 months ending March 31, 2023.

As a result, the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) notes there will be no change in California’s minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) and permanent total disability (PTD) rates for 2024 work injuries, or in other benefits that are tied to increases in the SAWW.

Under California law, minimum and maximum TTD and PTD rates are subject to annual changes, effective January 1 of each year, based on the percentage increase in the SAWW After increasing steadily for more than a decade, including a 5.159 percent increase last January on top of a record 13.521 percent increase in 2022, the maximum TTD/PTD rate for 2023 job injuries is now $1,619.15 per week, and the minimum is $242.86 per week.

But, with the decline in the SAWW last year, those rates will not need to be adjusted for claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2024.

The 2022-2023 decline in the SAWW also means that annual cost of living adjustments to life pension and PTD payments on existing claims with injury dates on or after January 1, 2003 will not apply next January, and the maximum rate for death benefit installment payments, which are paid in the same manner and amount as TTD, will remain unchanged.

However, depending on the rate now being paid, some existing older claims that are eligible for more than 104 weeks of TD [e.g., claims involving amputations, hepatitis or any of 9 long-term injuries noted in LC §4656(c)(3)] will qualify for an increase in 2024 as LC §4661.5 requires that any TTD payment made two or more years after the injury date be based on the TTD rate in effect on the date of the payment, unless that would reduce the amount paid.

Thus, a worker who suffered an amputation on April 1, 2022, and who is still receiving TD at the 2022 maximum of $1,539.71, should see that payment increase to the current maximum of $1,619.15 on April 1, 2024 (assuming that rate is justified by their at-injury earnings).

Claims administrators are encouraged to review the latest SAWW figures with legal counsel to confirm that benefit payments are appropriate and accurate. For reference, California’s SAWW data can be found in the U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance database.