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June 20, 2000

Workers' comp benefits rise 8.4 percent with cost of living

TUMWATER - All workers currently receiving Washington workers' compensation time-loss benefits will receive an 8.4 percent cost-of-living increase on July 1, 2000.

The maximum monthly benefit will be $3,561 or 120 percent of the state's average monthly wage for workers injured after June 30, 1996.

The increase is based on the average annual wage of all workers in Washington. That wage rose to $35,610 or 8.4 percent in 1999, according to the Employment Security Department. State law requires the maximum time-loss benefits to be re-calculated each July 1 to reflect the change in the state's average wage from the previous calendar year.

The maximum workers' time-loss and pension rate for those injured from July 1, 1988 through June 30, 1993 will rise to $2,967.50. The maximum rate for injuries between July 1, 1993 and June 30, 1994 will be $3,115.87. For injuries from July 1, 1994 to June 30, 1995, the maximum rate is $3,264.25. The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1995 to June 30, 1996 is $3,412.62.

Maximum time-loss benefits for injuries occurring before July 1, 1988 amount to 75 percent or $2,225.62 of the state's average wage.

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

The July 1 workers' compensation benefit increase applies to both State Fund and self-insured employers. The Washington State Fund insures about 1.9 million workers and 163,000 employers. About 400 self-insured employers who meet financial requirements and mandated benefit levels insure the remainder of the workforce, about 800,000 workers.


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