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June 18, 1997

Workers' comp benefits increase 5.25 percent July 1

TUMWATER - All workers receiving workers' compensation time-loss benefits will get a 5.25 percent increase beginning July 1, 1997.

The increase is based on the average wage of all workers in Washington, which rose to $28,594 annually, or $2382.83 a month, 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, 1996, increase was 4.25 percent.

The maximum monthly benefit will be $2,859.40, 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 5.25 percent to $2,382.83. The maximum rate for injuries between July 1, 1993, and June 30, 1994, will be $2,501.97. The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1994, to June 30, 1995, is $2,621.11

The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1995, to June 30, 1996, is $2,740.25.

Maximum time-loss benefits amount to 75 percent, or $1,787.12, of the state's average wage for injuries before July 1, 1988.

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 2.3 million workforce for workers' compensation. Funding is provided by employer and worker premiums and through the investment of State Fund reserves.

About 400 self-insured employers who meet financial requirements and mandated benefit levels insure the remainder of the workforce. The increase also applies to employers who self-insure for workers' compensation coverage.

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