Workers compensation terms can get pretty confusing to folks who have never dealt with this system before, especially when it comes to the financial terms. I have compiled a list of terms and abbreviations injured workers will likely encounter as they deal with this process to help them better understand what these workers compensation terms mean.
*Please remember these terms are provided to give you a clearer picture of what is going on with your workers’ comp claim, the meanings given in this context are not necessarily the legal definition nor are they the only definition of that term.
- AWW: Average Weekly Wage- Your gross pay prior to any deductions per week based upon the 52 weeks prior to the work injury, not the date your last worked. If you only worked 6 months prior to your work injury, then you would only use the number of weeks worked. You add up all the wages earned for the last 52 weeks (or if less, then the number of weeks worked prior to your injury) and then divide by 52 (or if less, the number of weeks worked prior to your injury). It gets more technical if you only worked for 1 or 2 days for the employer prior to your injury, so talk to an attorney if you are in that situation. You want this number as large as possible since it affects everything- how much money you get weekly, how much money you get for a permanent disability, how much your check increases each year for the cost of living adjustment and how much of a settlement you may receive. This figure should also include any bonuses, overtime, uniforms, meals, etc. This is how the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission determines your Comp Rate (see below).
- Comp Rate: Compensation Rate – The rate at which workers’ compensation benefits are paid to the injured worker. It is 2/3rds of your average weekly wage. You multiply your pre-injury gross average weekly wage by .6667%.
- PPD: Permanent Partial Disability– An award for the permanent loss of use of a body part (extremities only – the neck and back are not covered). This is based on the rating of loss of use (also known as impairment rating or disability rating) given by the medical professional, as determined by the Functional Capacity Exam/FCE. This is a very specific math formula. The percentage rating multiplied by the comp rate, multiplied by the number of weeks allowable for the body part as set in the Virginia Code.
- PTD: Permanent Total Disability- The status that provides for lifetime benefits (wages and medical) for a very serious injury. This requires permanent loss of use of both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes or a combination thereof, or total paralysis, or a severe brain injury that leaves the worker permanently unable to find gainful employment.
- TTD: Temporary Total Disability– Pay for time missed from work (has to be 7 days or more) because the doctor says you are totally unable to work for the time being; however, this is not expected to be permanent.
- TPD: Temporary Partial Disability- Pay for partial time missed from work or for earning less due to the work injury. For example, if you were making $25 an hour when you got injured and then returned to work on light duty making $9 an hour, you could receive TPD compensation to make up for the lost income.
- COLA: Cost of Living Adjustment- An annual increase in benefits based on the rate of inflation/increases in the consumer price index. Eligibility for COLA is based on the date of injury and the date of any last TTD paid pursuant to an Award Order (Injured workers collecting Social Security benefits will not be eligible for COLA).
If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.