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June 18, 1998

Cost-of-living adjustments boost workers' compensation benefits July 1

TUMWATER - All workers receiving workers' compensation time-loss benefits will receive cost-of-living adjustments beginning July 1, 1998.

The maximum monthly benefit will be $3,047.90 ($36,575 annually) 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, which rose to $30,479, or $2,539.91 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, 1998, increase is 6.6 percent.

The maximum workers' time-loss and pension rate for those injured from July 1, 1988, through June 30, 1993, will rise to $2,539.91. The maximum rate for injuries between July 1, 1993, and June 30, 1994, will be $2,666.91. The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1994, to June 30, 1995, is $2,793.90.

The new maximum for injuries from July 1, 1995, to June 30, 1996, is $2,920.90.

Maximum time-loss benefits amount to 75 percent, or $1,904.93, 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 injuries or illnesses prevent them 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 Washington State Fund insures about 1.4 million workers and 157,000 employers. 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 for 1999 also applies to employers who self-insure for workers' compensation coverage.


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