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June 14, 2001

Workers' comp benefits increase 3.59 percent with cost of living

TUMWATER - All workers currently receiving Washington workers' compensation time-loss or pension benefits will receive a 3.59 percent cost-of-living increase on July 1, 2001.

The new maximum monthly benefit will be $3,688.90 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 - set by the Employment Security Department - rose to $36,889 or 3.59 percent in 2000 from $35,610 in 1999.

State law requires that maximum time-loss benefits be re-calculated each July 1 to reflect the change in the state's average wage from the previous calendar year.

An injured worker's maximum time-loss or pension rate coincides with the date of their injury. For workers injured between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1996, the maximum monthly benefit will rise to $3,535.19. Injuries occurring July 1, 1994 through June 30, 1995 will have a maximum rate of $3,381.49. Injuries on July 1, 1993 through June 30, 1994 will have a maximum rate of $3,227.78. The new monthly maximum for injuries occurring July 1, 1988 through June 30, 1993 will be $3,074.08.

Maximum time-loss and pension benefits for injuries occurring before July 1, 1988 amount to 75 percent of the state's average wage or $2,305.56 a month.

Time-loss benefits partially compensate workers for lost wages due to a job-related injury or illness.

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. Labor & Industries manages the State Fund, which insures about 1.9 million workers for 163,000 employers. The department also oversees about 400 self-insured employers that meet certain requirements and insure the remainder of the workforce - about 800,000 workers.

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