The New Jersey Department of Labor has announced that the maximum workers’ temporary disability compensation benefit rate for 2019 will be $921.00 per week and the minimum rate will be $246 per week. These rates take effect for new injuries occurred on or after January 1, 2019. Benefit rates in cases with dates of loss prior to January 1, 2019 do not get this higher rate – New Jersey does not have a cost of living increase for established claims.
Why is this important?
Temporary disability wage-continuation benefits are one of the three main benefits available to injured workers under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act.
Temporary disability payments of 70% of the injured workers’ wages for the year in which the injury occurred or his occupational disease became manifest, subject to the annual maximum and minimum, are payable until she is “able to return to work.” These payments continue even if the contract of hire has expired. Therefore a schoolteacher is entitled to receive benefits during the summer recess or the seasonal worker after the end of the season if she is unable to return to work.
Temporary disability payments continue if an employees’ disability is such that she can’t return to her normal job even if she is capable of performing light work and none is offered. The burden is the employer to show that light work was refused by the employee.
When an employee manifests an occupational disease years after her last employment with the respondent the rate of compensation is fixed by her wages at her last employment with that respondent. The rate of compensation is subject to the maximum and minimum rates in effect at the time of the accident or manifestation of occupational disease.
Temporary disability for a part-time employee is based upon her actual part-time wages subject to the maximum and minimum rates in effect at the time of the accident or manifestation of occupational disease. Russell v. Saddle Brook Rest. Corp., 199 N.J. Super. 186 (App. Div. 1985).
An employee who removes herself from the workforce is not entitled to temporary disability for any period after that removal. Tamecki v. Johns Manville, 125 N.J. Super. 355 (App. Div. 1973), cert. denied, 64 N.J. 495 (1974).
A penalty of 25% of the amount due for temporary disability and a reasonable counsel fee shall be imposed upon the respondent who unreasonably or negligently delays or refuses to pay temporary disability or delays the denial of a claim. A delay of 30 days or more gives rise to a rebuttable presumption of unreasonable and negligent conduct on the part of the respondent.
An award of temporary disability and/or medical treatment during the pendency of a workers’ compensation proceeding may be appealed as of right. Hodgdon v. Project Packaging, Inc., 214 N.J. Super. 352 (App. Div. 1986), cert. denied, 107 N.J. 109 (1987). Temporary disability is payable to an employee until he is “able to resume work” even if the contract of hire would have expired (in this case a school teacher during summer recess). Outland v. Monmouth-Ocean Educ. Svc. Comm’n, 154 N.J. 531 (1998).