What is the State Average Weekly Wage and how does it work?
Under Texas law, injured workers receive several types of benefits. Arguably the most important type of benefits an injured worker receives are called "Income Benefits." The whole idea behind Income Benefits is that they are designed to cover an injured worker's lost wages.
However, it's not that simple, and an injured worker doesn't just get paid the same amount they were making before they got hurt. Instead, thanks to our state's lawmakers, injured workers who are employed by a company that participates in a Texas workers' comp plan only receive a portion of what they used to earn. But, more importantly, Income Benefits are subject to a cap that is equal to what the average Texan earns. In other words, no matter how much you were making, with a Texas workers' comp claim, you can never be paid more than what the typical Texan earns. That amount is called the State Average Weekly Wage. In this article, Texas lawyer Michael Grossman explains how it works.
Questions answered on this page:
- What is the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW)?
- How does SAWW affect the amount of money you see in workers' compensation benefits?
- What is the most that an injured worker can receive in Texas workers' compensation benefits?
How State Average Weekly Wage Affects Your Income Benefits
When you've been injured on the job and you're now eligible for workers' compensation benefits, the amount of benefits payable to you is based on formulas and calculations created by Texas lawmakers many years ago. These benefit formulas use variables that include your Average Weekly Wage, or if part-time then your Part-Time Average Weekly Wage, or what we'll talk about here: the State Average Weekly Wage.
The important thing to remember here is that out of all of the Income Benefits you may ever receive in your workers' compensation case, the amount you're paid will never exceed the State Average Weekly Wage. Think of this as a cap on what you can be paid.
This arbitrary limitation is derived from this section of the Texas Labor Code:
- (a) A weekly temporary income benefit may not exceed 100 percent of the state average weekly wage under Section 408.047 rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
- (d) A weekly death benefit may not exceed 100 percent of the state average weekly wage rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
- (e) A weekly lifetime income benefit may not exceed 100 percent of the state average weekly wage rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
Income benefits can be paid to you up to 100% of the state average but never beyond that. It's also important to note that the State Average Weekly Wage rises and falls depending upon how good the economy is doing. For example, the State Average Weekly Wage is $895.08 in 2016. Therefore, if you're making over that amount (say $1500 a week), you'll never receive more than $895.08 per week.
On the other hand though, no matter what type of income benefits they are, they cannot be lower than 15% of the state average.
- (a) The minimum weekly income benefit is 15 percent of the state average weekly wage as determined under Section 408.047, rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
For instance, since the State Average Weekly Wage is $895.08 (for 2016), then any income benefit that you are entitled to be paid must be at least 15% of $895.08, which would be $134.26. This is the minimum payment you can receive.
If you think this seems like a pretty convoluted way to determine benefits, we completely agree. For a more in-dept explanation of how Income Benefits are determined, check out our Income Benefits page here. If you have any questions about how the State Average Weekly Wage affects your situation, feel free to give us a call.
Call Us With Your Workers' Compensation Questions
The best way to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve is to hire an experienced work injury lawyer. They will be able to look over the facts of your case and help you determine the right amount of compensation that you are owed, even if the insurance company is trying to underpay you.
Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have over 25 years of experience and have helped thousands of clients determine their rights under the law and receive the compensation that they deserve. We can be reached any time, day or night, at (855) 326-0000. The call is free, as is the consultation.
Related articles for injured workers
- The Rights of Injured Workers in Texas
- A Look at Workers' Comp Income Benefits
- Can I Be Fired For Filing a Workers Comp Claim?