Under the Iowa Workers Compensation laws,unless you are a part time employee, the general rule for the calculation of your weekly workers’ compensation benefit rate is to find the Average Weekly Wages (AWW) for the 13 REPRESENTATIVE weeks immediately before your injury. The key is what a representative week is and it is often times open to interpretation. For instance, if you normally work 40 hours a week but 3 weeks before your injury your employer restricts work to 30 hours a week, then, is the 3 weeks of 30 hours representitive? The answer would be maybe, maybe not. Other variations of these questions arise and need to be looked at and are fact intensive. The weeks used to determine your AWW can significantly affect your benefit payments. Normally, weeks with vacation and sick time are not included in the 13 weeks, instead you would use the next available week. As a general rule, if you sit down and look at your wage history and if a week seems significantly lower than other weeks, then that week probably should not be used for rate calculaton purposes.
Generally, I try to obtain my clients wage history from 6 months prior to injury. I start with the first week prior to injury and label it as week 1, I then go through the next previous 12 weeks of wages (assuming they are representative), then I add up the total hours worked, multiply it by the hourly rate (Overtime is calculated at straight time) and divide it by 13. This will give you an AWW. When you have an AWW you can then look at the right rate schedule provided by the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner and locate the correct rate. Each dependent you have increases your benefit rate. The Commissioner’s rate chart is listed with dependent information. If you are single with no children then your are an S1 under the table, if you are single with one child then you are S2, and so on. If you are married with no children you are M2, married with one child then you are M3 and so on. The Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner rate tables are listed by years of injury and are found at the following link: Iowa Workers’ Compensation Manual
Rate calculation starts to get a little tricker when you are paid at different rates, if you are an over-the-road driver being paid per diem, if you are a part-time employee, if you are a new employee, etc. Surprisingly, rate calculations can be a real point of conflict between the injured worker and the insurance carrier. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
– Ryan Beattie