calculator-imageIf you are injured or become ill as a result of your job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system provides wage replacement and covers medical expenses for injured workers without the need to show that an employer did anything wrong. In other words, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation is a no-fault system.

If you qualify for benefits, your weekly payment will be based on your average weekly wage. Understanding how your average weekly wage is computed will give you a better idea of what your benefit amount might be.

Contrary to what many people believe, the average weekly wage is not determined by multiplying your hourly rate by 40. Instead, is based on what you actually earned prior to your injury or illness. The calculation includes overtime, bonuses, shift-differential pay and income from a second employer. Furthermore, your average weekly wage is based on your gross take-home pay, not your net pay.

In most cases, the amount will depend on your income during the four quarters prior to your injury or illness. The three highest earning quarters will be used in the calculation. The income in those quarters will be averaged, and that average will become your average weekly wage.

If you did not work for your employer for an entire year prior to the injury or illness, there are other methods for calculating your average weekly wage. There is also a maximum average weekly wage, which changes each year. For calendar year 2013, the maximum is $917.

Although the calculation may seem straightforward, errors occur on a regular basis. If you have received notice of your average weekly wage and feel it is incorrect, you should consult with an Worker’s Compensation right away. All too often, benefits are calculated without including secondary income, bonuses, shift differential pay or overtime pay — all of which should be counted. You and your family will undoubtedly be counting on this income while you are unable to work, so now is the time to correct any errors.

Although the workers’ compensation system is intended to protect injured workers and their families, it can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights to compensation, contact the Philadelphia workplace injury attorneys at Shor & Levin, the Bulldog Lawyers, at 866-462-8553 or use our Worker’s Compensation