If you miss work because of your injury and your doctor certifies you are unable to work, L&I or your self-insured employer may pay for a portion of your lost wages, called "time‑loss compensation." However, the first 3 days immediately following your injury are considered a waiting period. You will only receive benefits for those days if you are still off work on the 14th day after your injury.
What to expect
- Time-loss compensation payments will not be as much as your regular paycheck.
- The benefit amount is 60 to 75% of the wage you were earning, depending on how many dependents you have. The minimum and maximum L&I can pay is set by the state legislature.
- You may have better options available - ask your employer if there are other jobs you can do to earn your wage or salary while you recover.
- Your first check will be mailed within 14 days from the date L&I or your self-insured employer receives notice from your doctor that you are unable to work if you are eligible and no further information is needed.
- Checks are mailed (or sent electronically) twice a month, as long as:
- Your doctor certifies that you cannot work (supported by objective medical findings).
- Your claim manager receives your signed Worker Verification Form. Your self-insured employer may require you complete a similar form.
- If you don’t cash your check, it will expire after 180 days.
- You can ask L&I to reissue an expired check, but only if it has been less than 2 years since the issue date. After that, you will need to contact the Department of Revenue to file a claim for unclaimed property.
- If your check is lost or stolen, tell your claim manager immediately.
- No taxes will be withheld. The IRS considers time-loss compensation to be a disability benefit, not earned income, so income tax laws do not apply.
Loss of earning power
Occasionally an employer wants to bring someone back to light duty, and can only afford to bring their employee back to work part-time or at a lower rate of pay. If this happens and your claim is still open, you may apply for Loss of Earning Power (LEP) benefits.
You are not required to accept any job exceeding the restrictions given by your attending provider. However, if your employer offers you light duty or transitional work, approved by your attending provider, and you choose to decline it is unlikely you will be eligible to receive further time-loss or LEP benefits
Earning power is defined as the worker’s ability to earn income as a result of labor.
RCW 51.32.090(3) requires the employer to compensate a worker for loss of earning power when the worker’s earning capacity has decreased as a result of the industrial injury or occupational disease.
- The worker’s loss of earnings must be greater than 5 percent of wages at the time of injury. Some examples include:
- Returning to work at a lower rate of pay.
- If you had more than one job at the time of injury and are restricted from performing on of the jobs.
- Return to work at regular wage but fewer hours.
- Return to work full time, but prior to the injury you worked regular overtime (exception: This does not apply if the employer no longer offers overtime work to any employees.)
- Medical certification must indicate that the worker’s loss of earning capacity is due to the industrial injury or occupational disease.
- The worker must be working at any employment for income, salary, wages, or commission.
- Employment may include light, transitional, modified duty work, and on-the-job training in an approved vocational plan.
- If the doctor approves a written light duty or transitional job description offered to the worker and the worker chooses not to accept the work, they are not entitled to LEP or time-loss compensation.