The 2007 Workers’ Compensation Reform Legislation (passed March 17, 2007) raised the maximum compensation benefit indemnity rate paid to claimants for the first time since 1992. The rate had been $400 per week since July 1, 1992. The rate was raised to $500 per week for accidents occurring after July 1, 2007. On July 2008 the rate was raised again to $550 and increased to $600 per week in 2009.
As of July 1, 2010 the maximum rate will be adjusted again and will be pegged to the State Average Weekly Wage. as of July 1, 2010 the rate will be two-thirds of the NY State Average Weekly Wage (“SAWW”). The rate will then follow the SAWW.
New Jersey has long pegged the state ‘maximum’ temporary and total disability rates to the SAWW. This method has resulted in an ever-increasing maximum total disability compensation rate. The 2010 “maximum” rate in New Jersey is $794 per week. Despite the recession, and falling ‘real’ wages, the NJ SAWW keeps rising. How is that?
The answer is that the New Jersey Department of Labor simply “makes up” a SAWW based on a secret formula. The SAWW number derived has absolutely nothing to do with reality – and differs (significantly) from the SAWW computed by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other NJ SAWW figures, using Federal unemployment claims as a basis for determining actual weekly wages, would yield an even lower figure for NJ SAWW.
So far, no word from NY as to how the NY SAWW is going to computed. If NJ is any example, we can expect that the resulting SAWW figures will not reflect the actual SAWW. The figure has not been announced yet. We will keep you up-to-date with this important information.