When a worker sustains a compensable injury that results in lost time or lost earnings from work, the worker is entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TTD and TPD benefits are based on the injured worker’s average monthly wage at the time of the injury.
According to Arizona workers’ compensation law (Ariz. Rev. Stat. 23-1041) and past court rulings (Matlock v. Industrial Comm’n 70Ariz. 25, 215 P.2d 612), an employee’s average monthly wage includes not only wages and salary, but also anything of value received by the employee for work constituting real economic gain.
Contact a certified Arizona workers’ compensation specialist if you have questions about your benefits and legal rights.
Statutory maximum average monthly wage
Each year, the Industrial Commission of Arizona sets a statutory maximum average monthly wage.
For the 2019 calendar year, the statutory maximum average monthly wage is $4,741.57. For the 2020 calendar year, the statutory maximum will be $4,888.56.
After you report your injury, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company calculates you average monthly wage. Then, they submit the recommended average monthly wage calculation to the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
The Industrial Commission of Arizona will then issue a Notice of Average Monthly Wage. If an injured worker disagrees with the average monthly wage, then they have 90 days from the date of the Notice to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
“No work” status & TTD benefits
When a physician places an injured worker on a “no work” status, the employee is entitled to temporary total disability benefits if they miss more than 7 days from work. If an employee misses more than 7 days from work, but less than 14 days from work, then they are entitled to a portion of TTD benefits.
The amount paid by TTD benefits is 66 ⅔ percent of the injured worker’s average monthly wage.
For example, if a doctor places an employee on a no work status for 10 days and the injured worker subsequently returns to work full duty, the employee would be entitled to 3 days of TTD benefits. If a physician places an injured worker on a no work status for more than 14 days, then the employee is entitled to TTD benefits every 14 days while on a no work status.
Light duty work benefits
When a physician places an injured worker on light duty work restrictions, the worker is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits if the injured worker earns less than the established average monthly wage. TPD benefits are payable at least every 30 days.
For example, at the time of the injury the injured worker’s average monthly wage was $3,000. The injured worker can return to their work with restrictions. However, the employer can only offer part-time light duty work. For the 30-day period, the injured worker only earns $2,000. During that 30-day period, the injured worker would be entitled to 66 ⅔ percent of the difference between their average monthly wage ($3,000) and their earnings ($2,000) — or $666.67.
The correct calculation of your average monthly wage is crucial to maximize the benefits paid to an injured worker. The Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists at the Law Offices of Robert Wisniewski can assist in maximizing your benefits.