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June 18, 1996

Workers' comp benefits rise 4.25 percent July 1

TUMWATER - All workers receiving workers' compensation time-loss benefits will get a 4.255 percent increase beginning July 1, 1996.

The increase is based on the average wage of all workers in Washington, which rose to $2,263.90 a month, or $27,167 annually, according to the state Department of Employment Security. State law requires the maximum time-loss benefits be recalculated each July 1 to reflect the percentage change in the state's average wage from the previous calendar year.

The July 1, 1995, increase was 2.152 percent.

The maximum monthly benefit will be $2,716.70 or 120 percent of the average state monthly wage, for workers injured after June 30, 1996.

The maximum workers' time-loss and pension rate for those injured from July 1, 1988, through June 30, 1993, will rise 4.25 percent to $2,263.86. The maximum rate for injuries between July 1, 1993, and June 30, 1994, will be $2,377.10. The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1994, to June 30, 1995, is $2,49.27.

Maximum time-loss benefits amount to 75 percent, or $1,697.92, of the state's average wage for injuries before July 1, 1988.

Legislation in 1988 increased the maximum benefit to 100 percent of the average wage after July 1, 1988. The 1993 Legislature raised the cap in 5 percent increments each July 1 through 1996.

Time-loss benefits are paid to workers to partially compensate for lost wages when they miss time from work because of job-related injuries or occupational diseases. Pension benefits are paid when workers' injuries or occupational illnesses prevent them from becoming gainfully employed. Pensions also are paid to a worker's surviving spouse and dependent children when a work-related injury or occupational illness results in death.

The Washington State Fund, which the department administers, insures about two-thirds of the state's 2.5 million work force for workers' compensation. Funding is provided by employer/worker premiums and through the investment of State Fund reserves.

The remainder of the work force is insured by about 390 self-insured employers who meet financial requirements and mandated benefit levels.

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