Workers Comp Zone


Temporary disability minimums and maximums will increase in 2012 for some California workers.

It’s due to an ongoing bright spot for injured workers in California’s system, Labor Code 4453(a)(10).

TD maximums and minimums are adjusted yearly based on the percentage increase in the state’s average weekly wage. The TTD maximum will now exceed $1,000 for the first time.

Now at $986.69, the maximum will increase to $1,010.50. Not all workers receive maximum, however. That’s because TTD is based on 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wages.

This will affect workers injured in 2012 and, under Labor Code 4661.5, workers who continue on temporary disability after two years.

California now has a patchwork of rules regarding how long workers can draw temporary disability.

Workers injured after January 1, 1979 but before April 19, 2004 may potentially receive many years of TD payments. But workers injured from April 19, 2004 to January 1. 2008 can receive no more than 104 weeks for a single injury unless they come within certain exceptions:
-Acute and chronic Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
-Severe burns
-High-velocity eye injuries
-Chemical burns to the eyes
-Pulmonary fibrosis
-Chronic lung disease

And the 104 week temporary disability limit is measured from the date TD “commenced” for workers injured between April 2004 and 1/1/08. Those workers will not benefit from increased TD maximums since by definition they can not benefit from Labor Code 4661.5.

Workers injured after 1/1/08 can (if medically indicated) draw temporary disability for up to 104 weeks over a 5 year period, however. So those workers will benefit from increases in the TD maximum, since via Labor Code 4661.5 their TD rate can be adjusted upwards when they are paid TD more than two years after the date of injury.

A bill to extend TTD eligibility for workers who require surgery beyond the 104 week limit was vetoed in 2011 by Governor Brown.

TD minimums will also be adjusted in 2012. Currently the minimum is $148 per week. For 2012 injuries the minimum will be $151.57 per week.

Changes in the state average weekly wage have varied over the years. In 2005, the SAWW increased by 1.9%. In 2006 it increased by 4.01%. In 2007 the increase was 4.959% and in 08 by 3.932%. The SAWW changes affect TD maximums and minimums, which then affect the amount actually paid out.

Changes in the SAWW (state average weekly wage) may also affect some workers injured after 2003 who are eligible for “life pensions” (i.e.70% to 99% ratings) or who are permanently totally disabled (;i.e. 100% on an industrial basis). Under Labor Code 4659(c), COLAs in a life pension or permanent total disability case apply to payments themselves rather than to the maximums/minimums.

Tying TD and COLAs to changes in the SAWW has been very beneficial to many workers, though the recent Baker v .WCAB decision will limit the positive impact for some workers who have permanent disability awards between 70 and 99%.

Many of the maximums and COLAs calculations are complicated. Even experienced attorneys may overlook nuances of some of these concepts.

Here is the DWC press release announcing the new rate adjustments: … 44-11.html
Julius Young

Category: Understanding the CA WC system